For those not following the FCC as of late, the issue of Net Neutrality has been a hot-button issue. For a few years now, mega internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon have been of the mindset that they can dictate the bandwidth allocated to whatever services they deem acceptable. In 2007, Comcast decided they had the God-given corporate right to slow down and even stop the bandwidth of Bit Torrents among other things Comcast didn’t find appropriate. The FCC actually stood up to them and tried to prohibit their nefarious actions.
Comcast fought the FCC as one can imagine, and on April 6 of this year, the US Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC did not have the authority to stop almighty Comcast from doing as they please; essentially ruling that the FCC can’t impose net neutrality at all. Here is the FCC’s response to the decision:
“The FCC is firmly committed to promoting an open Internet and to policies that will bring the enormous benefits of broadband to all Americans. It will rest these policies — all of which will be designed to foster innovation and investment while protecting and empowering consumers — on a solid legal foundation.”
That’s all warm and fuzzy of the FCC to stand up for us little guys, but considering the courts are siding with the corporations, it will be a tough road to ho for the FCC. But now, the FCC is pushing to regulate the internet through laws designed for phone regulation. This is a novel idea by FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, yet it remains to be seen how this proposed regulation will be carried out, especially when the major internet providers are threatening never-ending lawsuits if these regulations are carried out. AT&T has gotten into the act now as well by instituting a multimillion dollar smear campaign of advertisements trying to dupe the public into believing that FCC regulation will actually limit access.
Hope For Consumers?
The absolute key component to the future of net neutrality lies in more competition to the major internet providers. The FCC has announced a National Broadband Plan that proposes such radical ideas as:
“At least 100 million U.S. homes should have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of at least 50 megabits per second.
The United States should lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation.
Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.”
There are a few other ambitious components to the Nation Broadband Plan, but the intent is making sure everyone has access to high bandwidth at affordable prices – sounds like communism to me, don’t tell the tea party! Of course, all the dark and powerful corporate forces of the internet will have their lobbyists out in full force wining and dining and bribing all of our democratically elected representatives to make sure legislation is introduced that will thwart this Un-American plan of the FCC that will give equality and freedom of choice to us consumers.
Despite my cynicism, I have to applaud the FCC for taking such bold steps as they have traditionally done whatever their corporate-media overlords told them — due in part to the monopolies created by Clinton and his Telecommunication Act of 1996 and the pro-corporate Chairmen of the FCC prior to Genachowski. Of course I am always concerned when federal agencies designed to protect consumers actually start protecting consumers. It just doesn’t compute given the history of the FCC.
Google gets involved:
To further hinder the ambitions of the FCC to provide equal access to bandwidth is none other than Google, the 10 Billion dollar corporation that monopolizes the flow of information on the net. Google is approaching the major internet providers – IE: strong-arming – in an attempt to give them the highest bandwidth, a fast lane, for their own content. Since Google’s attempts at further monopolization are being slightly hampered by pesky anti-trust laws (for now), why not make sure that they get to suck up all the bandwidth making it a certainty that when we consumers surf the net and actually want: a page, or video, or mp3, or commerce site to load at reasonable, post dial-up speeds, we will have only Google-controlled content to load.
One would hope that federal laws would prevent Google from furthering its monopoly on information, but if the recent ruling against the FCC in favor of Comcast is any indication, then Google shouldn’t have to worry about petty laws getting in their way. More interesting is the fact that Google has always been a stall-worth of supporting net neutrality – supposedly. Even when Google was preaching the virtues of neutrality, they were paying lobbyists millions and millions of dollars to persuade congress to enact legislation furthering Google’s monopoly. At least the cat’s out of the bag now – Google and their Orwellian mantra Don’t be evil has been exposed for what they are: just another powerful corporation trying to dictate policy and strong-arm competitors to further their dominance in controlling the information we receive through the net.
President Obama has stated — for what that’s worth – that he’ll support and push for net neutrality regulation. Of course Clinton tried selling the public on the idea that his Telecommunications Act would bring about more choice–he was successful as he had little opposition to legislation that ultimately created larger monopolies and inhibited the flow of information. I can say with a modicum of confidence that the GOP–and possibly some DEMS–will inevitably introduce legislation that will give Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner and Google the control they seek. It will probably be called the Internet Consumer Freedom Act, or something similar to that–just as long as freedom or Patriotism is in the wording, an unassuming populace will eat it up. Of course I could be wrong. Perhaps the FCC will actually give us lowly internet users choice and equal access without courts and congress thwarting their efforts.
I know the idea of bandwidth restriction is a bit of a tricky concept to wrap one’s head around, but it is the essence of prohibiting the further monopolization of corporations that can potentially control what information can be readily accessible to the public through the internet. Despite hysterics from those officials in the pockets of the giant telecoms, net neutrality legislation will not hinder nor censor anything on the internet. Quite the opposite as it will guarantee that information WILL NOT be censored through arbitrary bandwidth restrictions and special “high speed channels” for content approved solely by Google. If we fail to stop the telecom industry from squashing net neutrality legislation, we will all be at risk of having only corporate-approved information available to us, much like television – with more ads.
Portions of this report were first published on Mr. Curl’s website, The Todd Blog.