Just a few moments ago by a vote of 3-2, the Federal Communications Commission voted to to endors “net neutrality”. This will now prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) from throttling specific traffic on the web. One of the more publicized cases was when Comcast was slowing down traffic from Netflix to consumers until they agreed to pay more for that traffic.
Today on the Wall Street Journal, the Cablevision CEO James Dolan said they don’t see it “as having any real effect on our business“. Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be making the rules”.
It’s an important ruling because it preserves the public’s right to communicate freely online. It gives the little guy as much of a chance to compete in a market as with an established company with deep pockets. The ability to pay for a “fast lane” is not allowed and regulated because of today’s ruling. Wheeler almost made the comment, “This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is to regulate free speech.”
While an important and huge win today, it also begs the question; what’s next? Will the FCC step in and apply it’s decency standards to all streaming video? Digital TV is essentially streaming as well. At it’s core, YouTube and Television work the same way. Stream their encoded data. I’m the first one to scream I hate when the government gets involved in things, it usually gets worse. But I’ve always felt the Internet should be like our 21st century public highway system. So on the surface, this solves some of our immediate issues with the ISP gatekeepers picking and choosing who gets quality service, but now it’s time to watch what the government is going to do as the new gatekeeper. In general, net neutrality is extremely important and a huge win for the public domain.