The Debate on Net Neutrality
In the aftermath of President Obama urging the Federal Communications Commission to protect a free and open Internet on Monday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has got a lot of work ahead of himself. Speaking publicly, Wheeler spoke of how his stance on the issue is in line with Obama’s, as well as what work the agency is undertaking to get the updated regulations in order. According to Wheeler, the Internet shouldn’t be advantageous to some to the detriment of others. Broadband networks, he says, shouldn’t be allowed to cut special deals to prioritize Internet traffic to the detriment of consumers, competition and innovation.
Behind closed doors, however, it’s been said that Wheeler has expressed “frustration”. In a meeting earlier this week that included representatives from various Internet companies, Wheeler spoke about creating an open Internet that doesn’t negatively affect business, something that’s a lot easier said than done. Part of the reason that these questions are currently on the table is due to a lawsuit that Verizon brought against the FCC that was settled in January of this year, with the US Court of Appeals ruling that the FCC didn’t have the authority to prevent ISPs from arrange deals with streaming platforms to then charge them for faster Internet access.
At first, it was believed that the new regulations would be rolled out in the first half of 2015, but with the potential further legal entanglements coming up, particularly in regards to Obama’s stance of reclassifying broadband as a common utility under the Telecommunications Act, the issue might not be resolved so soon.
I remember when it was first being talked about, and most people didn’t think that it would last the test of time. But now, 20 years later, it looks like they were wrong. The Internet, which was founded on the principle that all data must be treated equally, has become a daily fact of life. Now that the Internet is here to stay, it will be interesting to see where it goes, and where this legal debate on net neutrality goes.