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The Pay To Play Internet

Friday, Apr. 28, 2006 1:35 AM

You have to pay to play.

Or so the House decided by approving a bill which would allow ISPs to charge additional fees for faster delivery of services and content.

Vendors like AT&T maintain that video- and audio-intensive sites requiring significant bandwith should be able to pay extra so that users don't have to wait as long for downloads.

Sounds fair, until one realizes that large corporations and/or well-funded organizations would gain an edge over grassroots groups and startups who lack the budget or capital for such expenses.

It doesn't matter how much you want the content, or how much merit/value it has; if the provider can't pay, it will come to you at a non-premium speed, as determined by AT&T, Verizon, and other telecommunications giants.

Think about that one.

Whoever can pay the fees can get their content out faster. Media moguls. Pharmaceutical companies.

But folks mistaking pay-for-play with a free marketplace might want to imagine a world where objectionable material, funded by a game- or record- company, comes down the pipes faster than content from your neighborhood church's website. A site lauding the wonders of convenience food and sugary snacks gets faster delivery than a group of concerned mothers looking to promote home-cooked meals and good nutrition.

In other words, it'd be like having a freeway lane reserved not for high-occupancy vehicles, but for the folks driving Lexus' and Mercedes instead of Volkswagen Beetles.

Associated Press released this photo showing Rep. Dennis Hastert getting out of a hydrogen-fueled car and back into an SUV for the short drive back to the Capitol.

The implication being, of course, that the sight of various congresscritters riding off into the sunset in alternative-energy vehicles following a news conference was nothing more than a public relations sham.

Which may or may not be true. I'll give Hastert and the others a pass if they can show it was done for security reasons, switching to a government vehicle that offers protection for the occupants.

Not only has democracy come to Iraq, so has free enterprise.

For only $25 USD, you can equip yourself in a police commando uniform. And for $2 more, you can add rank insignia of your choice.

Just down the road, you can buy the same kind of vehicles used by police special forces and regular patrol officers. Sirens, police markings, fake IDs ... it's all there.

One car salesman shrugged off concerns about his customized, bullet-proofed cars being used by insurgents, terrorists, or criminals. "We can't go around checking after them. Our job is to sell cars and make money."

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