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MoveOn.org, Gun Owners Of America Join Forces. Seriously.

(AP)
And now for the topic that's been keeping you awake at night: net neutrality. OK, maybe you've actually been sleeping fine. And you've never heard the term net neutrality. In that case, here's a (very brief) recap of the Internet issue that has put Moveon.org, Gun Owners of America and the Indigo Girls on the same team. To sum it up, cable and phone companies – who control broadband, high-speed Internet lines – want to charge Web sites for delivering faster broadband service, something that's particularly valuable to video-heavy sites like YouTube, for example. Those sites that don't pay a premium would not receive faster service. The theory behind net neutrality is that all Web sites should be charged equally for use of high speed Internet lines from cable and phone companies.

Net neutrality took a hit yesterday, when the House didn't include a provision that would have, as Forbes put it, "forced cable and telephone companies to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing on their networks."

Here's how the arguments go. From musician Moby, in favor of net neutrality: "If Congress guts net neutrality, independent music and news sites would be choked off, consumer choice would be limited and the Internet will become a private toll road auctioned off by companies like AT&T," Moby said in a statement at a recent Capitol Hill event, as reported by the Associated Press. And the other side of the coin, writes the AP:

Phone and cable companies contend pure net neutrality would erode Internet freedom and drive up costs to consumers because online businesses would not pay a fair share of the billions of dollars being spent to provide high-speed service around the country.
According to Forbes, the House's defeat of the amendment "more or less dashes the hopes of a big coalition of Internet companies and Democratic groups that strict network neutrality' regulations will become law this year, since such legislation has only slightly better odds of passing the Republican Senate." It's a complex debate that has recruited some very unlikely bedfellows – but it doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon.
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