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Sir Tim Berners-Lee Drafted in to Help Protect Net Neutrality from UK ISPs

Posted: 17th Mar, 2011 By: MarkJ
sir tim berners-leeSir Tim Berners-Lee (TimB), the inventor of the World Wide Web (WWW), has agreed to assist the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) in adjusting its new 'Voluntary Code of Practice' on broadband ISP traffic management transparency (revealed on Monday) so that it takes better account of UK consumer rights and Net Neutrality (the principal of treating all internet traffic as equal).

The news came yesterday during an Open Internet Roundtable at the governments Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Sir Tim Berners-Lee is known to be an outspoken supporter of Net Neutrality and some ISPs were perhaps a little surprised to see him join up, especially after the code had already been unveiled just two days earlier.

Antony Walker, CEO of the BSG, said:

"The challenge ahead is to build a common view on how we safeguard the benefits of the open internet whilst also ensuring ongoing investment and innovation. It is important that this is based on the realities of what is happening in the UK market, rather than what is happening elsewhere in the world."

Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, added:

"It is good to see that industry has taken the lead on agreeing greater transparency for their traffic management policies [and] I am pleased that someone with the expertise of Sir Tim has agreed to work with [ISPs] on expanding that agreement to cover managing and maintaining the open internet."

Sir Tim Berners-Lee commented:

"While transparency about traffic management policy is a good thing, best practices should also include the neutrality of the [internet]. The web has grown so fast precisely because we have had two independent markets, one for connectivity, and the other for content and applications."

The new code itself aims to tackle Net Neutrality fears by ensuring that ISPs are more open and honest with their customers about how they manipulate the flow of traffic between a customer's broadband connection and the internet (e.g. restrictions on P2P, iPlayer, Facebook, Skype etc.).

So far the vast majority of broadband ISPs have welcomed the new code with open arms (here), although many consumers and businesses remain sceptical and fear that broadband providers will not provide enough detail or simply revert back to their old bad habits (i.e. small print). Sir Tim's appointment might go some way to addressing those fears.
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