Could free web sites come to an end?
Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Web in 1989, envisioned a platform on which everyone in the world could communicate on an equal basis. But his vision is being threatened by telecommunications and cable companies, and other Internet service providers, that want to impose a new system of fees that could create a hierarchy of Web sites. Major corporate sites would be able to pay the new fees, while little-guy sites could be shut out.
Sir Tim, who keeps a low profile, has begun speaking out in favor of "net neutrality," rules requiring that all Web sites remain equal on the Web.
Sir Tim argues that service providers may be hurting themselves by pushing for tiered pricing. The Internet's extraordinary growth has been fueled by the limitless vistas the Web offers surfers, bloggers and downloaders. Customers who are used to the robust, democratic Web may not pay for one that is restricted to wealthy corporate content providers.
"That's not what we call Internet at all," says Sir Tim. "That's what we call cable TV."
(Read the whole article in NY Times from May 28)