The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are implementing internet regulation rules to maintain a level playing field for both business and consumer.
The online community calls this Net Neutrality.
The internet represents experimentation and quick decision making without the worry of high costs or logistical problems found in larger organisations.
Small businesses have never had it so good. This is until the entities controlling broadband internet subscriptions try to throttle it.
Seth Godin calls these choke points.
The philosophy is that internet access should never be monopolized by those with vast resources. By disallowing pay-to-play cyber “fast lanes” there cannot be any opportunities for exploitation.
In theory, we should all enjoy fast download speeds. That’s the idea, anyway.
The FCC are now treating broadband internet services as a utility. In 2005 broadband was classified as an “information” service, but because of the gradual changes to the way the world uses the web, broadband services are to be regarded as “telecommunications” services.
The three principles of the FCC regulation are:
- No blocking
- No unreasonable discrimination
On Saturday 28th February the FCC announcement on a forthcoming
332 317 page document was made: FCC Adopts Strong, Sustainable Rules to Protect the Open Internet.
The activists see the neutrality regulations as a hard won victory after a 2014 court ruling swung in favour of Verizon, the ISP provider who sued the FCC over the 2010 Open Internet Order.
The FCC’s 2010 order was intended to prevent broadband ISP’s from blocking/interfering with web traffic but the proposed legal foundations never stood up to scrutiny.
We may not notice any discernible performance changes because the internet has always been open. What we don’t want is for the internet to turn into a closed system resembling cable TV where content is controlled or blocked.
Most Internet Service Providers have affiliates or partners, such as search engines, and will often push these services aggressively.
For example, in the UK, Virgin Media is partnered with the Yahoo! search engine.
Although the FCC doesn’t have any influence in the UK, it makes me wonder how similar situations in the US will be handled.
What about illegal content and file sharing? Will that continue?
My ISP currently blocks torrent websites, but not torrent sites in and of themselves aren’t illegal. It’s the content that’s shared.
Radiohead famously released their In Rainbows album for free in 2008 and made revenue from voluntary fan donations.
Does this mean internet providers in the United States will have to stop throttling torrent sites? Will there be a trickledown effect to Europe and the UK?
The video below is a 3 minute explanation of what is happening. Quite a few niggling details have been left out but I’m sure you just want the basics:
This move will supposedly protect the open internet although it has attracted criticism from a FCC Commissioners, one Ajit Pai who represents the Republican party.
As an aside, the FCC is directed by five commissioners and only three may be members of the same political party. These individuals are appointed by the President of the US and approved by the Senate. Interestingly, the Democrats have the ruling majority within the FCC but that’s just my observation.
Bizarrely, as part of his criticism, Ajit Pai quoted Senator Palpatine aka The Emperor from Return of the Jedi using the line: “Young fool, only now at the end do you understand.”
Ajit Pai clearly feels the future of the internet is now even less certain thanks to the FCC. Mike O’Reilly, the other Republican FCC commissioner remarked, “When you see this document, it’s worse than you imagine.” I’m waiting for O’Reilly to give us a Darth Vader line.
- The FCC announcement about the
332317 page document is here: FCC Adopts Strong, Sustainable Rules to Protect the Open Internet.
It seems the open internet activists are going to bang the drum for openness and fairness whatever the document decrees.
The references to Star Wars, emperors and activists seem as though both sides are participating in a good vs. evil narrative.
I feel as though the Republicans (Empire) want to build a Death Star and the Democrats (rebels) want to stop it. There seems to be a partisan agenda the general public (Ewoks) do not understand.
Is This Bad for My Business?
On the face of it, I’m all for openness.
HOWEVER I want to know why the two FCC members representing the Republican party think this is a bad thing?
Are they toeing the party line or is there more to it that my anti Republican prejudices are stopping me from seeing? At the risk of sounding selfish, I need to know if Net Neutrality is bad for MY business.
Here’s a comparison to illustrate my concerns: on January 1st 2015 the EU saw new legislation passed to stop tax evasion by corporations operating in low VAT threshold regions of Europe.
While it’s a good idea in theory, small businesses have been swept along with the new Europe tax laws and now have an obligation to obey a new VAT system on digital downloads. Short sighted legislators with good intentions rarely dig deeply enough. Politicians pander to an electorate, not to the people.
So, what exactly is in the FCC regulations that is dividing opinion? What am I missing?
I watched some more videos online, including one in which Paul Joseph Watson from InfoWars believes websites may need federal approval to operate at all:
Assuming you’ve just watched the video above, read the article below…
You can find lots of news on the subject online. Keep in mind much of it is biased because this subject is a political hot potato.
Here’s one more video I found on YouTube… and it’s awesome! The style and delivery is very creative but I’m not sure I agree with everything she says because the video was published in 2014:
It’s fair to say I have more questions than answers on this subject!