Tim Berners-Lee to help protect net neutrality in UK

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee is to work with the Broadband Stakeholders Group to ensure the UK works towards a more open internet.

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee is to work with the Broadband Stakeholders Group to ensure the UK works towards a more open internet.

The move follows a roundtable meeting on net neutrality of business, industry and government agencies chaired by communications minister Ed Vaizey.

Vaizey welcomed Berners-Lee's involvement, saying the development of the internet should be based on access to legal content, non-discrimination against content providers, and clear traffic management policies.

Berners-Lee said, "While transparency about traffic management policy is a good thing, best practices should also include the neutrality of the net.

"The web has grown so fast precisely because we have had two independent markets, one for connectivity, and the other for content and applications."

The meeting discussed issues around managing traffic on the web and protecting the open internet, as well as creating an industry-wide agreement for self-regulation.

Berners-Lee agreed to help the group to include the rights of consumers and business to connect to whomever they want on the internet without discrimination, in its new transparency document.

Vaizey decribed the meeting as "useful and productive". He said, "Handling heavier [internet] traffic will become an increasingly significant issue so it was important to discuss how to ensure the internet remains an open, innovative and competitive place."

Broadband Stakeholders Group CEO Antony Walker said the challenge was to agree on how to safeguard the benefits of the open internet and ensure ongoing investment and innovation. "It is important that this is based on what is happening in the UK rather than what is happening elsewhere in the world," he said.

Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock said BT's involvement with the new YouView and BT Vision content distribution services could harm net neutrality.

"We are talking about ISPs competing with the internet for content delivery," he said. "People could then shift from buying services from the internet to buying bundled services from ISPs. This would reduce competition and take investment away from internet companies. That would be bad for everyone," he said.

At the meeting were Amazon, BBC, Broadband Stakeholder Group, BSkyB, BT, CBI, Channel 4, Channel 5, Consumer Focus, Ebay, Everything Everywhere, Facebook, Federation of Communications Services, Google, ISPA, ITV, Mobile Broadband Group, Nominet, Ofcom, Open Rights Group, Skype, Talk Talk, Tax Payers Alliance, Three, Virgin Media, Vodafone, W3C, WE7, Which? and Yahoo.

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