Net Neutrality: The issue of control
Last week, the Federal Communication Commission approved sweeping Net Neutrality Rules, under Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications act. What does this mean? It means, to me, that the government (the FCC specifically) has gained a monumental amount of power over the Internet in its new classification as a “public good.”
Last year, Sen. Ted Cruz referred to this as “Obamacare for the Internet”. While that may sound silly, and is obviously extremely partisan, it has a lot of people thinking about whether they want this particular service industry so tightly controlled by the government. Disallowing Internet service providers from creating fast lanes, throttling speeds, or blocking content has been seen by many as government intervention or meddling in the private sector.
Conservatives and the private sector argue that Internet fast lanes are needed and that ISPs should be allowed to have varying speeds available. In addition to that, many feel ISPs should have the ability to throttle speeds to certain content (unless the content provider pays up) because they are using an unproportioned amount of bandwidth and basically argue that if you want more bandwidth, you need to pay more.
However, many Internet, based activists disagree. They fear that a lack of net neutrality will lead to these larger broadband corporations holding smaller companies hostage and banishing them to the “slow lane” with throttling or blocking their services entirely because they may compete with another avenue of their corporation, entertainment.
So, who’s right? It’s really all a matter of the lesser of two evils: Do you want big government controlling your Internet or do you want corporations to control it? Personally, I like having an evil I can choose to ignore — a corporation. If an ISP throttles or blocks something, you can always switch services or use a Virtual Private Network. I can’t say the same for the government and what these new rules might do to the industry.