Goodbye, Net Neutrality; Hello, Net Discrimination
If reports in the Wall Street Journal are correct, Obama’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Thomas Wheeler, has proposed a new rule that is an explicit and blatant violation of this promise. In fact, it permits and encourages exactly what Obama warned against: broadband carriers acting as gatekeepers and charging Web sites a payola payment to reach customers through a “fast lane.”
Federal regulators are expected to release draft net neutrality rules in mid-May as part of an ongoing effort to craft rules for Internet traffic that might actually hold up in court.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said Wednesday that the agency would consider draft “Open Internet,” or net neutrality, rules at an agency meeting May 15. As we reported in February, Wheeler will propose basically the same rules that the agency had tried before, but justify them under a different part of the law.
Consumer groups have complained about that plan because they’re worried that Wheeler’s rules may not hold up in court either. A federal appeals court rejected two previous versions of net neutrality rules after finding fault in the FCC’s legal reasoning. During the latest smackdown, however, the court suggested that the FCC had some authority to impose net neutrality rules under a section of the law that gives the agency the ability to regulate the deployment of broadband lines.
Internet activists would prefer that the FCC just re-regulate Internet lines under old rules designed for telephone networks, which they say would give the agency clear authority to police Internet lines. Wheeler has rejected that approach for now. Phone and cable companies, including Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, have vociferously fought that idea over the past few years.
Wake Up, Internet — Time to Save Yourself
Would you spend your time binging on listicles or the final season of Breaking Bad? Or would you do something about it?
Would you email all your friends with the news? Blast your social media networks? Demand that Congress and the president keep this amazing invention from going away?
If the Internet had only three weeks left, would you take to the streets and raise hell?
I bet you would.
And here’s your chance to prove it: Because three weeks from today the Internet as we know it may not disappear, but it could be a lot closer to the precipice.
On May 15, the Federal Communications Commission will propose a new set of rules that are supposed to stop big phone and cable companies from blocking websites or discriminating against apps and services they don’t like. Only as written the rules would do pretty much the opposite.
According to numerous sources, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal would allow Internet service providers like Verizon or Time Warner Cable to charge extra fees to content companies like Google and Netflix for preferential treatment, guaranteeing their content reaches end-users ahead of those that don’t pay.
In other words: Goodbye, open Internet. Hello, payola Schminternet.