New Net Neutrality Changes; Code Words For “Pay to Play”

Net Neutrality

The open internet is once again under attack, this time through proposed changes to net neutrality. If the FCC enacts the changes, the free and open internet may be less open and a whole lot less free sometime soon.

So troublesome are the proposed net neutrality changes that Xconomy tells us that New York’s tech meet up placed the issue squarely as their primary agenda item before kicking off their normally scheduled events.

For you and I; fellow consumers, we may ask, so what’s the big hullabaloo? And if we asked that question while sitting directly across an imaginary table from executives from the big internet service providers, and presuming they were to shoot absolutely straight with us without sugar coating the answer, these executives might answer something like this;

“We’re all in favor of the proposed changes to net neutrality because once the changes take effect, we’ll be able to charge you and our business customers more for faster speeds. If you want to drive in the fast lane, you might need to pay a little more. Otherwise, you can sit in the gridlock with everyone else who doesn’t want to pony up a little extra.”

Like any good argument, there is another side which the Washington Post illustrates quite clearly in its recent article on the subject. Aside from giving large ISP’s another tool by which to make more money, the proposed net neutrality changes would allow ISP’s to charge big data users like Netflix proportionally for bogging down their networks. In this sense, it’s a business to business debate. It’s understandable why an ISP would want to approach the problem in this manner. What’s not so clear is how they will manage to treat their business customers- either consistently or inconsistently? That is, if an ISP were to charge a big data user like Netflix a much higher rate for the burden it places on the network, would that same ISP then have to charge other business customer’s equally high rates? Furthermore, would these higher rates be affordable to small companies and startups?

In recent days, the public grass roots movement against the proposed net neutrality changes has picked up a lot of steam. Inquisitr News brings to light that on Sunday night, John Oliver, the former Daily Show “newscaster” and comedian went off on a thirteen minute rant against the net neutrality changes. Mr. Oliver advised his many viewers to “seize your moment, my lovely trolls!” He advised his newly minted minions of internet trolls to share with the FCC their absolute displeasure with the net neutrality changes; and that they did!

Until recently, any given FCC measure has typically not seen more than 2,000 formal comments. In late April, the agency setup a formal inbox for net neutrality related comments and it received 300,000 emails in that location thus far! The comment period runs through June 27th.

Aside from devising a price based fast and slow lane to the internet (no doubt causing a wide number of questions as to the morality of restricting access to information based on someone’s ability to pay for it), John Oliver said it best when referencing the FCC chairman on the net neutrality subject;

“The guy who used to run with the cable industry’s lobbying arm is now tasked with the agency tasked with regulating it. That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.”

Kind of makes you wonder doesn’t it?