The Last Gasps of Net Neutrality
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler revealed his new ‘net neutrality’ proposals yesterday, which essentially approve a fast lane option for companies that want to charge a higher rate for those wishing for a faster Internet based on content. (See our previous coverage on what recent developments mean for you and for startups.) Facing intense opposition, Wheeler needs to show these opposing groups that his proposed rules are part of the principle of net neutrality in the first place: that all content on the Internet will remain free in value.
The problem? The rules gut that principle entirely.
The very fact that allowing certain companies to fast-track their content violates the principle of a fair, open Internet. Wheeler’s justification for allowing the rules to go forward is that there would be regulations watching out for Internet Service Providers intentionally slowing down traffic. While this is also part of a net neutrality ideology, the rules ignore the rampant discrimination inherent in an “Internet fast lane.”
Yesterday’s FCC vote to open the proposals to public comment went largely along party lines. The three Democratic commissioners voted in favor of public comment, while the Republican commissioners voted for only Congressional comment instead and find no legal basis for the Commission to allow the public to weigh in. July 15 is the deadline for initial public comments, followed by the September 10 deadline for responses to those comments.
While this was a partisan vote down the line, the commissioners expressed hesitation for how the process is moving no matter the decision for public comment. “I believe the process that got us to this rule making today is flawed. I would have preferred a delay. I think we moved too fast, to be fair,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the commissioners who voted in favor. Michael O’Reilly, a commissioner who voted against public comment, said, “I have serious concerns that this ill-advised item will create damaging uncertainty and head the commission down a slippery slope of regulation.”
Nevertheless, the FCC is now open to public comments regarding this new proposal. You can send your comment here: http://www.fcc.gov/comments.
Dennis Futoryan (@dfutoryan) is an undergrad with an eye on a bright future in the federal government. Living in New York, he seeks to understand how to solve the problematic issues plaguing Gothamites, as well as educating the youngest generations on the most important issues of the day.
Featured image courtesy of [Gerd Altmann via Pixabay].