By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
In a strict party line vote, the FCC rammed through an appeal last week of the Obama era Net Neutrality rules that sought to regulate what internet service providers can do. And while both sides claim their arguments on the Net Neutrality debate was about keeping the Internet open and fair, we can’t help but wonder who is the real winner after Friday’s vote.
This decision puts the Federal Communications Commission on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public.” – FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
In today’s ever increasing soundbite dominant culture, it’s difficult to wrap your head around what the issue is all about. It doesn’t help that the term “net neutrality,” really isn’t all that self explanatory. We’ve been covering the debate over Net Neutrality ever since Comcast started buffering Netflix back in 2015. Shortly thereafter by Verizon got into the buffering act, and even YouTube complained about the constant buffering and image quality that their users were facing. This showed a trend that Net Neutrality rules were designed to curb.
From my perspective, it comes down it this … bits are bits. They don’t change depending on what you do with them. A bit is a 1 or 0, and whether that’s an episode of The Crown streaming from Netflix in 4K, or an post you make on Facebook or Twitter, it’s all the same to the internet.
But the Internet Service Providers want you to see them differently. They want to create preferred lanes of traffic that they can charge extra for to increase their bottom line. You may have noticed that wireless companies are offering Netflix or Hulu streaming for “free” (it won’t be charged against your data caps)_. So the seeds have already been planted, and the ISPs are just waiting for the water that pulling Net Neutrality rules will provide to allow it to grow.
“There is a basic fallacy underlying the majority’s actions and rhetoric today: the assumption of what is best for broadband providers is best for America. What saddens me is that the agency that is supposed to protect you is abandoning you” – FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn
But I digress. The point is, that Net Neutrality proponents make the case that left unchecked, ISPs will create a cable like infrastructure where members will have to pay for add on packages above and beyond basic internet access. Want to stream video? That’ll cost you extra. Access to Amazon? Another couple of bucks. Want to get the feed to doddleNEWS? Who knows. It may cost as part of a news and information package.
On the other hand, those against Net Neutrality say that the Internet was growing just fine before the Obama Administration stepped in and made the internet a common carrier that could be regulated by the FCC. The Internet was fine then, it’ll be fine after Net Neutrality goes away. Or so FCC chairman Ajit Pai wants you to believe with this silly YouTube video:
But Pai tends to forget that twice, through bills known as SOPA and PIPA, Congress had to vote down attempts by lobbyists to craft legislation that would give internet providers the legal tools to control who sees what on the Internet. Both were sold as anti piracy bills, but there were several key parts off the bill had an impact on Net Neutrality. Seeing the opening, companies like Comcast and Verizon took advantage. In the end, Obama FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler championed rules that would guard against prohibiting access, while still allowing the Net to flourish according to the free market.
Did things really change all that much after Net Neutrality rules were put in place by the FCC back in 2015? I didn’t think so. And to be perfectly honest, we’re still dealing with buffering and slow downs on the internet to this day. But one thing is certain. What this issue really comes down to is … do you trust the federal government, along with Google, Facebook, Twitter and other Net Neutrality powers to control the net, or do you trust Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and others who can simply flip a switch and restrict your access unless you pay up?
Either way, I think we, as consumers, are on the short end of the stick. But there is hope. Several bi-partisan bills are being crafted to make Net Neutrality the law of the land. And you can bet there will be legal challenges as well.
So while Net Neutrality may be down for the count at the moment, the fight goes on.