UK gov't promises to allow telcos to hold Brits hostage on "two-speed" Internet

So much for any hope that a Conservative-LibDem coalition would signal a beginning to sane network/information policy in Britain. Ed Vaizey, the new Minister of Culture, has given the go-ahead for a "two-speed," non-neutral Internet, in which your capacity to access a website or service would depend on whether that service had bribed your ISP.

In this model, ISPs could slow down traffic from the sites you love if they don't pay for "premium access" to you -- essentially turning you into a hostage that gets traded around like a prisoner being swapped for a couple packs of cigarettes.

So, Vaizey, what next? I can call any takeaway restaurant I want, but unless they've given a backhander to my phone company, I'll have to wait an extra 30 seconds to be connected, while an announcement offers to put me through to a competitor who's paid the "premium" danegeld?

What kind of self-respecting Tory -- theoretically a staunch free marketer -- would allow pure rent-seeking from a common carrier, to the detriment of the whole population?

He says: "We have got to continue to encourage the market to innovate and experiment with different business models and ways of providing consumers with what they want.

"This could include the evolution of a two-sided market where consumers and content providers could choose to pay for differing levels of quality of service."

He also suggests that content makers could be charged for the first time for the use of the ISP's networks - provided they too were clear about what they were getting.

"Content and application providers should be able to know exactly what level of service they are getting especially if they are paying for it," he says.

Minister Ed Vaizey backs 'two-speed' internet