Ars Technica has a good analysis of the current status of “Net Neutrality” issues. This paragraph offers a good summary of the what’s at stake, particularly for small businesses and end users:
Network neutrality can be defined in several ways, several of which may in fact be bad for end users. But when companies start talking about “charging Internet firms to use our pipes” and letting “the market sort it all out,” consumers and small business owners get nervous when they have limited ISPs to choose from. Will my webmail run more slowly if Google doesn’t “pay up”? Will the flash videos on my small business web site load so slowly that people won’t make use of them unless I cough up (a second time) for bandwidth? Will I have to pay for better speeds on every major US network? What about internationally? Will my own Internet access be free if you’re now charging the websites on the other end of the network?
The essay makes it clear that the current political climate in the U.S. still favors the telecommunications industry over the end user.
The problem most people have with potential legislation to protect Net Neutrality is the general ignorance of the legislators. The fear is that any new law will be more harmful than the ill it tries to cure. But I think a Net Neutrality law could be written quite simply: Thou shall not favor one bit over another for profit. Done.