The FCC isn't really being honest about the future of net neutrality
The entire Internet is rumbling with anger over a news report indicating that the Federal Communication Commission will give a new shape to net neutrality rules that will basically ruin the open Internet principles.The FCC is debunking the report, however, saying that things aren’t nearly as bad as they are painted out to be.
“There are reports that the FCC is gutting the Open Internet rule. They are flat out wrong. Tomorrow we will circulate to the Commission a new Open Internet proposal that will restore the concepts of net neutrality consistent with the court’s ruling in January,” reads a response issued by the Commission.
Furthermore, they said there would be no “turnaround in policy” and that the same rules will apply to all Internet content. “As with the original Open Internet rules, and consistent with the court’s decision, behavior that harms consumers or competition will not be permitted.”
The FCC is saying that it is currently trying to defend net neutrality by keeping Internet Service Providers from blocking legal traffic and from discriminating against traffic they’d rather not serve. Basically, it wants to readapt the Open Internet Rules from 2010 to the court ruling from January.
However, the statement doesn’t negate the fact that the FCC will allow Internet Service Providers to charge content providers for privileged access to their high-speed channels. Instead, it simply states that net neutrality isn’t dead.
While the FCC says that behavior harming consumers or competition will not be permitted, this can’t exactly be done under the current circumstances.
Let’s say that Netflix and YouTube agree to pay ISPs in order to have their services perform better online in terms of speed. Smaller sites that deal with video streaming, which are direct competitors to these two giants, are less likely to be able to pay the same fees and get the same treatment.
Under these conditions, no one can claim that the competition rules are being respected in any way. Furthermore, this also harms the consumer.
Wheeler seems to be beating around the bush in order to make the new rules sound like they’re no big deal. After all, he’s only mentioning that the FCC isn’t killing the “Open Internet rules,” but there’s no mention of not doing this to net neutrality.
Of course, instead of adopting new rules, the FCC could have just changed the status of ISPs into “common carriers,” which would have given the commission the right to force companies to adopt net neutrality rules.