Any attempt to ban caching could suffocate the Internet and see access charges skyrocket, according to an industry backed white paper published this week.
The paper, published by the Global Internet Project (GIP), is an indirect reaction to moves by the European Parliament in February to ban Internet caching in an attempt to protect copyright owners.
"Banning caching would exacerbate the problem of providing sufficient capacity to meet today's demand, let alone tomorrow's," the paper says.
Caching stores temporary copies of Internet content on a local server or PC, preventing the user from repeatedly having to access content from source. This speeds up Internet access and prevents traffic bottlenecks, GIP argues.
"If caching were no longer permitted, the Internet would experience many more 'traffic jams'," the paper says. "This would increase the frustration due to what some have called the 'World Wide Wait'."
The organisation, started by Netscape founder James Clark, added that banning caching would substantially increase the cost of Internet access, because ISPs would be forced to increase the capacity and performance of their networks.
"Even worse, the cost of hosting websites and making more information available on the Internet would increase substantially," the paper continues.
The white paper has been endorsed by international non governmental Internet organisation, the Internet Society (ISOC). The organisation highlighted the potential impact on Europe of a caching ban in a reaction statement to the European Parliament vote last month.
"There is a great opportunity for Europe to be a major player in a radically different global information economy," ISCO said. "To attempt to ban the use of the very technologies that underpin this dramatic change is most damaging for all Europeans."
GIP says that while it supports measures to protect copyright on the Internet, there are technological alternatives to banning caching, such as digital watermarking, authentication tools and preventing caching on a case by case basis.
Moves by industry technical bodies the World Wide Web Consortium and the Internet Engineering Taskforce to develop standards that enable more advanced control over caching are welcomed in the paper. GIP also welcomes agreements on caching between content owners and technology providers in the US.
Following the controversial European Parliament vote in February, Labour Euro MP Christine Oddy proposed an amendment to the European Union's proposed directive on ecommerce that would remove ISPs liability for cached material.
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