No Nonsense Net Neutrality Necessary
Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.
A clear consensus has emerged for the FCC to adopt new rules that will strengthen the open Internet and ensure that it remains a vital engine for innovation, economic growth, and free expression. The President outlined a plan reclassifying the internet as a public utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. That would protect consumers by treating the internet as an essential service. He also wants the FCC to include in its new rules to protect consumers: no blocking websites or services, no throttling, no slow lanes, and greater transparency.
An 80 Year Old Law Applying To The Internet?
Gizmodo explains it best:
“If the idea of using an 80-year-old law to regulate a super futuristic communications technology worries you, you’ll be very glad to know that the president’s got your back. In his statement, there is this brief but very important line: “I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act—while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services.” (Emphasis mine.)
So the first part of it is the big reveal. Obama wants the FCC to treat broadband companies as common carriers. Telephone companies are also common carriers regulated under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. However, this does not mean that Obama wants the FCC to apply all the same regulations for telephones to broadband internet.
That’s why the second part of that sentence is so important. When he suggests “forbearing from rate regulation [etc.]” the president is referring to a specific rule that allows the FCC not to apply certain parts of the law to certain carriers “if certain statutory criteria are met.”
In other words, if parts of that 80-year-old law should not apply to broadband, they don’t have to! For instance, there’s a provision in the law that dictates how 1-800 numbers should work. Obviously, that provision does not apply to broadband, so the FCC can forbear it. It’s also important that Obama specifically suggests that the FCC forbear rate regulation. That means that the government would not name the price of internet under this plan…”
Who Opposes This?
Big cable companies such as Comcast who are ISPs of course. They want the ability to raise and lower prices along with offer and not offer services as they see fit in ways that are certainly not transparent to the consumer. Examples of this include “adequately marketing” reasonably priced standalone broadband to consumers who do not also take cable service from the company. They want the ability to block traffic and content where and when they see fit. They want the ability to control the speed of the service of the content provider. You know the free market and stuff makes this uncool like Obamacare according to Senator Ted Cruz.
The new rules proposed by the FCC will prevent broadband providers from blocking legal content on the internet, but it does not explicitly ban companies from paying for better service. That’s bad for net neutrality as advocates have long hoped that the FCC would rise up to protect the free and open internet, after a U.S. Appeals Court came down on the side of big telecom and threw out an earlier version of the FCC’s rules. That version did make it illegal for telecom companies to offer pay-to-play deals to internet companies, but the FCC chose not to appeal.
The new net neutrality rules do not address pay-to-play deals, also referred to as interconnection. By not addressing interconnection, the FCC is opening the floodgates for more backroom deals between service providers and corporations that can afford to pay for preferential treatment. This, many say, will create an uneven playing field for business on the internet, since big companies can gain a competitive advantage over start-ups with the power of their checkbooks with Netflix agreeing to pay Comcast for direct access to the company’s broadband system after months of discord over who should pay for Netflix’s increased bandwidth was resulting in poor service from the third-party providers of bandwidth to Netflix from Comcast and Verizon.
Pop quiz hot-shot. Imagine you don’t have the money or connections of a Netflix to broker a deal directly with your internet service provider for increased bandwidth and quality of service. Without net neutrality, what do you do? What do you do? Support net neutrality here. There is absolutely zero reason not too.