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BellSouth: Let Us Blackmail Web Sites

BellSouth has come up with a plan that would even make Tony Soprano blush: It wants to charge Web sites extortion money so they'll load faster than their rivals. And it wants to do the same to any competitors that want to use its network for VoIP.
William L. Smith, BellSouth's chief technology officer, told reporters and analysts that his company should be able to charge a site like Yahoo an extra fee so that it loads faster than a rival's, such as Google's.

Left unsaid was that it could also make any Web site load slower, which would let BellSouth then ask that site for money so that it doesn't load quite so slow.

This is no different than the old Mafia business of hitting up all businesses in a neighborhood for protection money, saying that unless they paid up, bad things might happen to them.

Unfortunately, BellSouth isn't the only telecom giant that believes that extortion is a good business plan. SBC chief Edward Whitacre has also laid out plans to extort money from big Web sites, saying he would like to block subscriber access to them unless the sites paid him protection money.

In the real world this behavior is called extortion or blackmail. In the telecom world, it's called competition. Let's hope Congress steps in to stop it...although considering the extortion ring that they're running, they make the telecom industry look like pikers.