Proposed New FCC Net Neutrality Rules Will Kill Net Neutrality
The Federal Communications Commission’s proposed new net neutrality rules will be anything by neutral when they’re implemented. The FCC revealed that their current planned rules will cause all content to be equal but some will be more equal than other. The new rules will allow for companies to pay for faster bandwidth from ISPs to send content to users.
The so-called “fast lane” for web content is similar to what we’re currently seeing in the deal between Netflix and Comcast in which Netflix is paying Comcast for a more direct connection to Comcast users.
Obviously, this is going against the core tenets of net neutrality that no data going through the internet should be discriminated against and all data should be treated equally. While the FCC has said nothing about allowing throttling content, they are definitely allowing some content to get favourable treatment over other content.
The current proposal requires some transparency from ISPs as to how they treat web traffic. Providers will be required to disclose how traffic is treated (presumably disclosing who has fast lanes) and what terms they offer for the fast bandwidth lanes. The rules also require ISPs to act in a “commercially reasonable manner” in their dealings. As the definition of “commercially reasonable manner” hasn’t been determined by the FCC, it leaves a frightening amount of room for interpretation.
Consumer groups are already up in arms over the basics of the proposal. It’s bad enough that American internet tends to be overpriced and slow compared to many other countries but there’s a very real risk that the cost of fast lanes could be passed on to consumers. How would you feel if your $8.00 per month Netflix subscription went up to $10.00 to cover fast lane costs. The NYT specifically cited game companies as those that could be hung out to dry if they don’t pay. I’d imagine no one would be happy if Steam suddenly had a $50 per year subscription for multiplayer gameplay.
The full list of new net neutrality rules are being circulated inside the FCC for feedback and will be released to the public in full on May 15th. At that point, the public will be asked to give feedback on the rules. I’d imagine that there will be just a little bit of feedback. I also imagine that FCC lobbyists won’t let that feedback make a bit of difference.
Source: New York Times