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Control Lies Where on the Internet?

In a radio interview last week, Lawrence Jones was asked to explain what an Internet Service Provider does. Following Lawrence’s answer, Phil Wood, the host said – “so you basically run the Internet” and Lawrence’s response was “I guess so, personally we just have a small chunk of it.”

And in one sense this is true – any ISP can pull out a few cables and disconnect people from the Internet, or do a few lines of code and block a network of people from seeing a range of websites.

Today questions abound about who controls the Internet. Google has only just been reinstated in China after a couple of weeks of conflict with the Government and the Net Neutrality bill has taken a step backwards in the U.S.

What will happen if companies are allowed to create tiers of performance on the Net? Why is the U.S. debating this issue without involving the whole Net community? Should Google and other Internet giants retreat from China or submit to sensorship issues?

I think the global industry is beginning to face its widest challenges to date. Where does the real power lie – is it with the Internet corporates, the ISP’s, the governments or somewhere else entirely? And how do we bring all these sectors together to bring an outcome that is most beneficial to the user in front of their computer/mobile/blackberry/satelite TV?

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