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Vaizey backtracks and supports Berners-Lee on net neutrality after ‘two-tier’ mix-up

Jenny Williams

Communications minister Ed Vaizey has said he does support net neutrality and claimed that a speech he made about a "two-tier" internet policy was misinterpreted.

Vaizey apparently gave a tacit go-ahead for the development of a "two-tier" internet last week where those who could afford it could pay for privileged online services. This appeared to reject the principle of net neutrality whereby all services are available equally to any user.

In an interview with the Guardian, Vaizey said he was in favour of net neutrality.

"I say 'don't block input' [to the internet]. It's my first principle. I say the same as [Sir Tim] Berners-Lee," he said.

In reaction, web inventor Berners-Lee, told the Guardian, "There's no passage in [Vaizey's] speech where he says he's against net neutrality... We have discussed it on the phone. But I can't say yet that we're entirely in line."

Writing in an essay for Scientific American Berners-Lee reiterated his support for net neutrality legislation, outlining the need to protect "basic values".

"A neutral communications medium is the basis of a fair, competitive market economy, of democracy, and of science. Debate has risen again in the past year about whether government legislation is needed to protect net neutrality. It is. Although the internet and web generally thrive on lack of regulation, some basic values have to be legally preserved," said Berners-Lee.

The US communications regulator, the FCC, is expected to announce its intention to stop internet service providers blocking or favouring online content before the end of the year.


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