The Incredible Shrinking Internet
11/2/2000; 2:24:45 PM
'The really scary scenario for advocates of open access to broadband is that cable companies have the power not just to slow info, but to block it completely. If Time Warner should hook up with a big search engine, posits Rosen, the company could close the gate to others.
'Already some search engines are accepting money to rank paying companies higher than others, so a query about running shoes will result in a list of products from the advertiser. For regular consumers, it's not always apparent which search engines have paid placement and which don't. Now, with the rise of cable monopolies, search engines may be forced to bring up the names of businesses the broadband providers have arrangements with. "As it is," Rosen adds, "pure search engines like Google are getting rarer."
'Even more frightening, cable providers could just rope off certain parts of the Internet that they feel are immoral or inimical to their interests. It's a free-speech issue that's got people in many quarters upset, from the ACLU and the Consumers Union to a host of ISPs.'
I think the real solution is to forbid the carriers to even look at the content they are carrying. Since the trend is to hold them responsible for it, that seems unlikely.
We'd still worry about how using the default software tends to funnel you into the Time-Warner Approved Internet Experience, but at least everybody else would still be out there.