By Dave Bunting, The Shopper
The principle of net neutrality “guarantees a level playing field in which Internet users- you and me- do not have to pay Internet service providers more for better access to online content, and content generators do not have to pay additional fees to ensure users can access their websites or apps.” Content generators include big ones like Google, FaceBook and Netflix, but also small ones like this Highway Shopper newspaper.
In other words, Internet neutrality means that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.
On May 15, the FCC voted to move forward with their 99-page proposed rules for “net neutrality,” the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally. However, their proposal violates net neutrality. It would allow Internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon or AT&T to charge more to websites like Facebook and Twitter for faster service, and to provide different speeds to the websites.
Their proposal is now open for public comment until Oct. 15.
Internet service providers like Verizon and AT&T, who carry the basic “backbone” internet traffic, want to be able to charge some users more. Their request for this privilege is the reason the FCC is considering changing the rules.
Back in 2010, the FCC issued an Open Internet Order, which promoted net neutrality. It prohibited Internet service providers from blocking content and prioritizing certain kinds of traffic. Consumer rights advocates criticized the rules as too weak because they did not cover mobile web providers. Telecommunications companies, though, countered that the rules were too strong.
Currently, internet service providers are legally classified as “information services,” and the law says that for the protection of consumers “information services” cannot have discrimination or price regulations. This means that, as long as the services are “information services,” the FCC has no authority to regulate those services- it can’t regulate the services but neither can it regulate internet service providers like Verizon to prevent them from discriminating among their customers, charging some customers more than others.
In January of this year, the DC Court of Appeals agreed with Verizon and said that the FCC can’t stop Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against websites or any other Internet traffic unless the Internet is reclassified as a “public utility” instead of “information services.” But the court also said the FCC does have some authority to implement net neutrality rules so far as it promotes broadband deployment across the country.
The FCC took that small window of opportunity and worked on the new proposal that they proposed on May 15.
Though it leaves internet services as “information services,” it allows internet service providers including Verizon and AT&T to discriminate among their customers, charging some more than others, and giving some faster or slower speeds than others. Their proposal is not internet neutrality.
Nearly all internet users, including me and presumably including you, and many content providers oppose this proposal. Consumers have already submitted hundreds of thousands of complaints to the FCC. A group of 150 companies, including Amazon, Google and Netflix, sent a letter to the FCC in May pressing the commission to ban paid prioritization for services. The proposal “could legalize discrimination, harming innovation and punishing US consumers with a broadband experience that’s worse than they already have,” a Netflix spokesperson said on May 15.
You can file a response with the FCC by going to the FCC’s e-filing website apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/ and click ”submit a filing.”
This article is based on facts from many sources,
but primarily depends on facts from
and includes some excerpts from
“The FCC’s Net Neutrality Proposal Explained,”
a May 21, 2014 article by Leticia Miranda in The Nation–
Thank you for your research, Leticia and The Nation!