Are the Feds Looking To Bail On Net Neutrality??
Net neutrality is not dead. But it may be about to take a big blow to the head.
The Wall Street Journal has a foreboding scoop on what the new net neutrality rules the Federal Communications Commission is drafting will look like, and they will not have Internet activists thrilled. According to sources who spoke with the newspaper, the FCC is working on a plan to restructure the rules that govern online traffic by granting Internet service providers the ability to give some websites "preferential treatment" for faster traffic -- all for a price.
The fear is that under such rules, Internet service providers will squeeze bandwidth-exhaustive websites -- think services like Netflix and Skype that provide high-quality video -- and make them pay for smoother delivery. According to the Journal, companies in need of faster connections would have to pay for preferred treatment on the "last mile" of networks that connect to customers' homes. The expectation is that those costs would be passed on to consumers. Such pay-to-play schemes were banned under the old rules.
There is some good news. The FCC's proposal will ban Internet service providers from the most outright discriminatory practices, like blocking a legal website that offers a service that the Internet provider also offers. But for defenders of the original tenets of net neutrality, these proposed rules will not be enough.
The commission hinted at this plan back in February. After a U.S. appeals court struck down the old net neutrality rules, the FCC said decisions on whether or not agreements made between content makers and Internet providers were fair would be made on a case-by-case basis.
In its original incarnation, net neutrality prohibited Internet service providers from engaging in practices that block, stifle or discriminate against (lawful) websites or traffic types on the Internet. However, a January ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down a 2010 FCC order that forced Internet providers to abide by these principles, sending net neutrality into a state of limbo and forcing the FCC to rewrite its regulations.
Critics argue that the end of net neutrality could have far-reaching effects on U.S. society by stifling innovation, hindering cash-strapped Internet startups from getting off the ground and widening the gap between the rich and the poor in the quality of Internet connection each get.
See the original article on HuffingtonPost