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Many fear that this scenario may come to pass rather soon, because Congress is in the yearlong process of trying to replace the Telecommunications Act of 1996 with an updated legislation package. Several potential drafts have included language that would enshrine the principles of network neutrality in law. Proponents of this move, whom superwonk law professor Timothy Wu has dubbed "openists," say that mandating network neutrality will lead to greater innovation and consumer choice. Meanwhile, deregulationists like the AT&Ts of the world are pushing Congress to keep neutrality out of the law so they can build prejudiced pipes and start charging Google to use ’em.

If the deregulationists succeed, power over the Internet will be centralized among the companies that own the wires, and everyone but the big corporations will lose. We may be about to witness the end of the ends. SFBG

Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd who prefers to stay neutral.

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