Will Big Business Destroy Net Neutrality?

Big business is well-known for diving into the lives of common citizens and deciding for themselves what will and will not be provided to them, but the recent attacks on the internet and the freedom to use it has not taken spotlight, with many fearing that the freedoms the internet offers today will vanish into little more than a muddled-down machine filled with forced ads instead of information.

On May 15, the FCC approved a policy penned by Tom Wheeler, a FCC Chairman, whose proposal was aimed at keeping net neutrality something for the people, not the corporations. The policy, which received a 3-2 victory in the partisan vote, allows the agency to bring the message that they are “dedicated to protecting and preserving an open internet,” allowing them to create and consider the many mechanisms that work towards giving everyone what they desire from the internet without regulations limiting the content they are allowed to interact with.

To those ends, the FCC has already proposed reclassifying the net into a Title II common carrier service which will allow for easier regulation. In a surprising twist, however, the FCC is opening to the public a site that will allow people to offer their thoughts and opinions on what they feel will be the best way to regulate the content they see, both in terms of moralistic value as well as corporate power and advertising methods. Still, when it comes down to it, perhaps the biggest issue this proposal addresses is net speed and availability.

As of right now, the internet providers play a double-faced game. They encourage you to buy higher and faster internet speed, but then offer priority of that speed to those they deem more worthy of the bandwidth. Thus, a person who lives in the right area can get their porn streaming uninterrupted, while the kid trying to get his college homework risks losing everything as their internet dies to give the rich guy a better online experience. The FCC believes that forcing net providers to offer the same speed and connectivity to everyone who subscribes to them is top of the list. However, there are many out there that feel that Wheeler’s proposal is filled with a “great deal of misinformation,” stating that should it go through, we will only see more governmental control over the net, more unfairness with internet provisions and abilities and that neither the free market nor the feeling behind Title II with be worth anything due to how the proposal is worded. Mr. Wheeler disagrees.

“[This proposal] would establish that behavior harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the Internet will not be permitted,” Wheeler stated.

Many fear that what Wheeler has proposed will bring about the death of the internet.

Regardless, there is a fear that if this proposal is put into place, companies such as Comcast would punish the people for it by throwing on more arbitrary taxes, much like they did with the arrangement struck with Netflix. In response to this, Comcast Chief Policy executive David Cohen retorted that “There has been no company that has had a stronger commitment to openness of the Internet than Comcast,” adding that the hike in service provision to Netflix should not be seen as business as usual and that they “never were designed to deal with peering and Internet interconnection.”

“[Netflix and other content carries] have always paid for their interconnection to the Internet and have always had ample options to ensure that their customers receive an optimal performance through all ISPs at a fair price.” Cohen said about the attitudes of both companies have reached “an amicable, market-based solution to our interconnection issues and believe that our agreement demonstrates the effectiveness of the market as a mechanism to deal with these matters.”

Regardless of which side of the fence you lean on, the future of the internet that you, the consumer, will be using in 120 days may be vastly different then it is now. But at least you have the opportunity to let the FCC know where you would like to see it heading. Let’s hope they keep their ears open and do what is right before the people have to once again rely on Anonymous to be their voice of net freedom and net neutrality.