Net Neutrality Is Already Gone

After three FCC guard dogs attacked net neutrality, heroic cats from around the web came out of nowhere, and sank their claws into doggy fur, scaring the mangy curs away and preserving equality and justice across the net. And we all sighed in relief.

That hasn’t happened, but there is a confused outcry against the agency. As described in the Washington Post, Net Neutrality Issue Puts the FCC at the Center of a Firestorm, it is former cable lobbyist Wheeler and the other two Democrats on the FCC that favor the changes:

Silicon Valley once cheered the election of President Obama, comforted by his stance that Internet service providers should be banned from charging Web sites such as Facebook or Netflix for faster access to American homes. And for much of the past six years, tech firms felt shielded from the possibility that the Internet would ever have separate slow and fast lanes for traffic.

But on Thursday, the government is poised to vote on a plan that could make that scenario a reality. Tom Wheeler, a Democratic Obama appointee, is pressing new rules at the Federal Communications Commission that would allow an Internet service provider such as Verizon to charge YouTube, for instance, for higher-quality streaming of videos.

The proposal has sparked an outcry of protest from Obama’s earliest supporters — consumer advocates, high-tech firms and investors, and from Democratic lawmakers. …

But at Vox, Timothy Lee posts, Not everyone wants stronger net neutrality rules. Here’s why.:

In the last two weeks, the debate over network neutrality has focused on a specific legal maneuver known to insiders as “reclassification.” A decade ago, the Federal Communications Commission decided to classify broadband internet as an “information service,” a legal category that limits the agency’s ability to regulate it. That led to a legal setback in January, when an appeals court ruled that it was illegal for the FCC to impose common carrier regulations on services in this category, meaning that the network neutrality rules it had agreed to were a no-go.

That left the FCC with two options: it could water down its net neutrality rules to fit within the boundaries the court had set for information services, or it could declare that broadband is actually in a different legal category, a “telecommunications service,” which would allow the FCC to establish the kind of robust rules that net neutrality supporters favor. Right now, net neutrality activists are outside the FCC urging the agency to reclassify.

But not everyone thinks this is a good idea. Incumbent telecom companies, free-market advocates, and a number of members of Congress have all urged the FCC to retain the low-regulation “information service” category. …

In other words, net neutrality has not been enforceable since the appeals court decision. Wheeler wants to reclassify but intends to institute only limited common carrier regulations; cable and telecom interests want to keep the status quo of information service regulations and do what they want. Neither scenario bodes well for the neutrality we have enjoyed for some twenty years.


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