Amsterdam has the world’s busiest Internet exchange, thanks to nuclear physicists and mathematicians who in the 1980s connected their network needs with the academic belief that knowledge needs to be free.
At a time when the neutrality of the Internet is at stake, and Internet service providers (ISPs) are moving to prioritize their premium traffic, the Amsterdam Internet Exchange is a reminder that the Internet was built on the principle of the unrestricted exchange of ideas and information.
“Anything goes unless it’s forbidden”, was our motto from the beginning. We added a few rules later on, but any unnecessary organizing is being prevented,” said Rob Blokzijl from Nikhef, the National Institute for Nuclear Physics and High Energy Physics in the Netherlands.
It shares this spirit with the designers of the Internet who decided that all data packets were created equal, and with Tim Berners-Lee who developed the World Wide Web at the Swiss particle physics lab
CERN as a universal and neutral platform.
Indeed, the debate over “net neutrality” is one of the biggest issues facing the Web today on both sides of the Atlantic, pitting big cable and phone companies against Internet powerhouses like Google Inc.
At issue is whether broadband providers should be allowed to create “toll booths” that would charge Internet companies to move content along fast broadband lines, a move critics say would restrict the freedom of the Web.
ASM-IX is a not-for profit structure, just how the Internet itself was conceived. The first Web server outside CERN was running at Nikhef, showing that physicists need collaborative networks because expensive machines are elsewhere.
Too bad it’s not like this in America whuh?