Lord Voldemort wrote:
Recently, legislation in the United States House of
has been introduced that may have an impact on Wikimedia. The bills in
question are H.R. 5252 and H.R. 5417, and can be seen in their
entirety by searching for them on http://thomas.loc.gov/
aforementioned bills deal with "net neutrality", restricting phone and
cable companies' ability to control aspects of the Internet and its
As this may have a direct impact on Wikimedia Foundation, I was
wondering if WMF had an official position on the matter. "Internet"
companies such as Yahoo, Google, eBay, and others have made their
official positions known, so I was wondering if WMF had discussed this
issue. If I am just way behind the times, would someone mind
directing me to the appropriate location? Thanks.
For those unfamiliar, the issue is that some telecommunications
companies have considered offering, for a fee, a service where operators
of internet services (like websites) can receive a guarantee of
higher-priority traffic. So if, say, CNN paid a telecomm company a
bunch of money, CNN's traffic would get a higher priority than other
traffic over that company's wires, and therefore CNN would appear to
users to be faster. There is some legislation proposed that would
I personally don't think this is the sort of issue the Wikimedia
Foundation should be involved in--- It's a political and ethical
question that Wikimedians ought to be able to disagree on. The
competing interests are a desire to keep the internet relatively
egalitarian versus a desire not to unduly restrict private companies'
rights to engage in whatever sort of commerce they wish to engage in,
with the right balance depending partly on how much of a monopoly a
particular company has in its market. On the whole I would hope these
sorts of things don't become commonplace, but whether they ought to be
prohibited is a tougher issue, and one that I think is mostly depends on
non-Wikimedia-related political issues (like where you stand on
government regulation of utilities in general).
I think in the specific case of the Wikimedia Foundation, it'll have
negligible impact. We're large enough and have little enough
competition that the power balance tips more our way than their way---if
Wikipedia is slower on one ISP than on one of their competitors, that
will reflect badly on that ISP. And in any case, latency caused by
differential IP-traffic priority is likely to be negligible compared to
latency caused by things like hitting the database.