Monday, 19 May 2014
Net Neutrality on the Ropes
Interest was high on this page last week when we discussed net neutrality in the lead-up to release of a proposal for new regulations from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
That proposal was released by FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler on Thursday and it was as net neutrality supporters had feared. Here's how Reuters explained the proposed rule change:
"[It] would ban Internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to websites but may let them charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of their traffic to users.”
Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth: no websites may be slowed down but sites that pay more to their ISPs (internet service providers) can be speeded up. More on the proposal from the Washington Post:
”The plan, approved in a three-to-two vote along party lines, could unleash a new economy on the Web where an Internet service provider such as Verizon would charge a Web site such as Netflix for the guarantee of flawless video streaming.
“Smaller companies that can't afford to pay for faster delivery would likely face additional obstacles against bigger rivals. And consumers could see a trickle-down effect of higher prices as Web sites try to pass along new costs of doing business with Internet service providers.”
That, at least, is approaching what I worry about that no one in media is explaining directly: if these new regulations are enacted, it won't be long until additional, new charges for speedy delivery will trickle down to the rest of us - small business trying to get some traction, non-profit charities and partisan political sites, personal websites like mine and yours, for example.
I mean, it's not like Comcast, Verizon and Time-Warner ever left behind a single dime they could gouge out of anyone.
The proposal was approved by the FCC on Thursday in a 3-2 vote, the three being the commissioner and his two fellow Democrats. Just so you know, Commissioner Tom Wheeler spent many years of his career as a lobbyist for the cell phone and and cable companies before being appointed to the FCC six months by President Barack Obama. And as Gothamist pointed out:
”...Wheeler managed to drum up about $700,000 in campaign contributions to both of Obama's presidential runs.”
So even though the president campaigned in 2007 for an open internet, nowadays it's probably not a good idea to look to him for support. After the FCC vote last week, presidential spokesperson, Jay Carney said,
“We will be watching closely as the process moves forward in hopes that the final rule stays true to the spirit of net neutrality. The President is looking at every way to protect a free and open Internet, and will consider any option that might make sense.”
In hopes? Hardly a ringing endorsement for a free and open internet.
The text of the FCC net neutrality rules proposal is here. They are not in effect yet – the purpose of the vote was to open the period of public comment which runs until 15 July 2014.
You can do that at the website of the FCC. This page gives you many choices on how to contact the Commission in general or individual commissioners.
There will undoubtedly be many petitions around the web – please sign them. And I'll be back here to remind you to write or phone the FCC between now and mid-July.
If you have any questions about how the speed up/slow down would work if the proposal is approved, this short, little explanation from The New York Times makes it easy to understand.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: Who Wants to be a Scammed Millionaire?