Web Behind Walls
6/1/2001; 1:15:27 PM 'At stake is the future and form of the Internet for millions of Americans whose access to the online world comes through the set-top portals of cable television. Instead of the multivaried pathways of the World Wide Web, these users will be provided easy access to a much smaller subset of items and options that reflect the network owner's online programming, as well as the offerings of its content partners. Dubbed "walled gardens" by supporters and skeptics alike, these new "managed-content areas" will therefore offer the illusion of online choice, while leading subscribers down well-worn paths of proprietary content and affiliated programmingin stark contrast to the great diversity of expression the Web seemed to promise in its heyday, way back in, say, 1997....
'For millions of households, therefore, the World Wide Web will be neither worldly nor wide. The real danger, of course, is that the online marketplace of ideas under cable's control will become as encumbered with gatekeepers and tollbooths as the world of cable has become.... That's just too high a price to pay for the speed and simplicity of what amounts to little more than Internet Lite. In the interests of our democracy, broadband cable companies must be held to a higher standard than that....'