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The Death of Net Neutrality: Can It Live Again?

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the seriesNET NEUTRALITY AT THE CROSSROADS Series

 


If you are using the Internet and not following the FCC’s decision today, ignorance might be blissful, but it will also very be short-lived. NET NEUTRALITY AT THE CROSSROADS Series offers a look into what might go down as the most important week in the life of the Internet. Part 4 discusses the long-awaited FCC announcement of proposed rules to regulate broadband service providers (or ISPs). This article summarizes today’s developments and asks you to get involved, including reading Parts 1,2, and 3 in the event you are new to Net Neutrality.


 

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] released its much-anticipated course of action for regulating broadband service providers. In a 3-2 vote favored by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and two Democrats, the Commission will now seek Congressional approval to adopt and officially promulgate the proposed rules. 

The FCC proposal would allow ISPs such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner to charge content providers (i.e., edge users) for faster, more reliable, and higher quality delivery of their content/services to end-users. If implemented, the new rules will have sweeping impact on millions of users that surf the web (e.g., blog readers), video conference (e.., Skype, ooVoo), share data files and videos (e.g., Dropbox, Youtube), play streamed movies (e.g., Netflix), and connect through social media (e.g., Facebook). 

NetNeutrality-Dead

[pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”40%”]“A pay-for-priority Internet is unacceptable,” said  “Wheeler spoke passionately about the open Internet, but his rousing rhetoric doesn’t match the reality of his proposal.” — Craig Aaron, CEO of media watchdog group Free Press.[/pullquote]Despite the outpouring of protests that led up to today’s announcement, the FCC’s revised proposed rules include vague terminology that fail to assure open Internet proponents of the Commission’s continued commitment to Net Neutrality. A number of consumer groups and tech firms (such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook) have expressed opposition to the idea of paying for priority service (i.e., fast vs. slow lanes) and the unfettered ability of ISPs to block legal traffic over the Internet. Opponents view this shift in the direction of the Internet as the start of ending what has been termed “net democracy”. The notion that edge users and end-user of all shapes and sizes can equally participate in the global information highway. 

Over the past several days, dozens of protesters have encamped at the FCC, at one point requiring part of the facility to be closed. Critics of the FCC proposal are turning to open Internet supporters on Capitol Hill to stand-up against powerful industry players. Some are looking for leadership from President Obama who not only made commitments to Net Neutrality, but also attributes his campaign success in-part to Internet-based strategies

tom-wheeler
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Photo Credit: Public Domain

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who called for a delay on the vote in order too get more public input, stated, “I believe the process that got us to this rulemaking today is flawed. I would have preferred a delay. I think we moved too fast to be fair.”

Wheeler, formerly a lobbyist for the cable industry, suggested that he would not permit allow the an open Internet to be compromised. The FCC Chairman stated, “Simply put, when a consumer buys a specified bandwidth, it is commercially unreasonable and thus a violation of this proposal to deny them the full connectivity and the full benefits that connection enables.”

Critics, however, point out that beyond the rhetorical assurance, the path the Commission has taken in the aftermath of recent court cases, Comcast v. FCC and Verizon v. FCC, have conceded one of the founding principles of the Internet.

The FCC is soliciting input from the public. The process, expected to last for several months, will certainly attract heavy lobbying by powerful broadband service provider. The final version of the proposal rules will consider sentiment shared with the Commission, with a vote for official adoption to occur in the fall.

CALL TO ACTION…

[important]Make no mistake, the toothless tiger in the FCC’s proposed rules constitutes the death of Net Neutrality. This is a serious issue. We cannot overstate the implications the end of Net Neutrality will have on virtually every aspect of what we have come to enjoy about the Internet. Unfortunately, many have not been following this issue and will later lament the changes to come – if we do not act. We are publishing a series of articles on Net Neutrality that includes definition, a summary of court cases, options before the FCC, and ongoing developments. We plan to get involved by developing a petition.[/important]

Internet_map_1024
An Opte Project visualization of routing paths through a portion of the Internet. Created by Barrett Lyon, Opte Project is setting out to use visual graphics to accurately depict the expansiveness of the Internet. Source: Wikipedia Commons

 

Here’s what you can do to save an Free and Open Internet

1. Share this article broadly in social media!

2. Read Net Neutrality At The Crossroads articles (above).

3. Leave Comments in space provided under each article.

4. Sign the petition to be available on May 18, 2014.

5. Get updates on the kennethdprice.com Facebook page.

 

 

Series Navigation<< The Stakes and FCC Options to Preserve Net Neutrality
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