“An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life,” according to President Obama and it appears his perspective on the heavy hand of government regulation inserting itself into the last bastion of freedom and dynamism in the US economy, is how best to achieve “openness.”
Having pressured FCC’s Tom Wheeler, the vote just came down: U.S. FCC APPROVES NET NEUTRALITY INTERNET RULES IN 3-2 VOTE. While potentially good for a consumer’s pocketbook, the handing over of “fair-use” decision to the government, as we previously noted, could be the first step on a slippery slope to increased censorship.
- *FCC ADOPTS NET-NEUTRALITY RULE BACKED BY OBAMA
- *INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS MUST TREAT WEB TRAFFIC EQUALLY
- *COMCAST, AT&T, VERIZON AMONG COMPANIES REGULATED UNDER RULES
- *NETFLIX, TWITTER HAD SOUGHT FCC REGULATIONS
As Mike Krieger so eloquently noted previously, this could permit discrimination of web content…
The concept of “net neutrality” is not an easy one to wrap your head around. Particularly if you aren’t an expert in how the internet works and if you don’t work for an ISP (internet service provider). In fact, I think that lobbyists and special interest groups make the concept intentionally difficult and convoluted so that the average person’s eyes glaze over and they move on to the next topic. I am by no means an expert in this area; however, in this post I will try to explain in as simple terms as possible what “net neutrality” means and what is at risk with the latest FCC proposal. I also highlight a wide variety of articles on the subject, so I hope this post can serve as a one-stop-shop on the issue.
The concept of “net neutrality” describes how broadband access across the internet currently works. Essentially, the ISPs are not allowed to discriminate amongst the content being delivered to the consumer. A small site like Liberty Blitzkrieg, will be delivered in the same manner as content from a huge site like CNN that has massive traffic and a major budget. This is precisely why the internet has become such a huge force for free speech. It has allowed the “little guy” with no budget to compete equally in the “market of ideas” with the largest media behemoths on the planet. It has allowed for a quantum leap in the democratization and decentralization in the flow of information like nothing since the invention and proliferation of the printing press itself. It is one of the most powerful tools ever created by humanity, and must be guarded as the treasure it is.
People have been worried about internet censorship in the USA for a long time. What people need to understand is that censorship in so-called “first world” countries cannot be implemented in the same manner as in societies used to authoritarian rule. The status quo in the U.S. understands that the illusion of freedom must be maintained even as civil liberties are eroded to zero. In the UK, the approach to internet censorship has been the creation of “internet filters.” The guise is fighting porn, but in the end you get censorship. This is something I highlighted in my post: How Internet in the UK is “Sleepwalking into Censorship.”
In the U.S., it appears the tactic might take the form of new FCC rules on “net neutrality,” which the Wall Street Journal first broke earlier this week. While the exact rules won’t become public until May 15th, what we know now is that the FCC intends to allow ISPs to create a “fast lane” for internet content, which established content providers with big bucks can pay for in order to gain preferred access to consumers on the other end.
This is truly the American way of censorship. Figure out how those with the deepest pockets can smother the free speech of those with little or no voice on the one medium in which information flow is still treated equally. The nightmare scenario here would be that status quo companies use their funds to price out everyone else. It would kill innovation on the web before it starts. It’s just another example of the status quo attempting to build a moat around itself that we have already seen in so many other areas of the economy. The internet really is the last bastion of freedom and dynamism in the U.S. economy and this proposal could put that at serious risk. Oh, and to make matters worse, the current FCC is filled to the brim with revolving door industry lobbyists. More on this later.
So that’s my two cents. Now I will provide excerpts from some of the many articles that have been written on the topic in recent days.
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Contributed by Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge.