The Internet is tied together by a bunch of agreements between for-profit companies. Typically, they have an understanding that being able to access anything is a fundamental strength of the net, but every once in a while, somebody makes a business decision that leaves end users -- who generally think there's some technical fault -- unable to access certain sites. ISP's ISP Level 3 has apparently turned off peering with another similar company, Cogent, the end result being people whose ISP's use either network can't reach sites or servers hosted on the other. This isn't the first time this has happened, and it sounds like the same scenario: a company on one side of a peering agreement doesn't think it's fair, demands more money to maintain the connection, then when they don't get it, they de-peer. It's surprising these types of things don't happen more often, really. While everybody's worried about malicious hacker attacks on the Internet, plain old greed could pose a bigger problem.
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