Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Google, Verizon & "Net Neutrality"

Over the past year or so I have posted a few times about NET NEUTRALITY. I'm not here to pretend that I fully grasp all the minute details of either side of the fight, but I have been doing a lot of reading as of late. This issue is really coming to the forefront and from the emails I've been getting, it seems many people out there are wanting some clarification on this.

The main problem is much like the "Employee Fairness Act," "Net Neutrality" is a bit of a misleading name and I believe that's a contributing factor to the confusion...because who wants to say they're against net neutrality?

Boiled down to the most basic argument at the core of this fight is one we have found ourselves presented with quite often since Barack Obama became President: Government regulation VS. the free market system.
"Net neutrality has become a smokescreen to hide behind for those who oppose competition and free markets for communications and who want to turn back the clock and return to utility regulation." (source)

Most of what I've read makes me feel like this is the age-old political story where Congress uses class warfare (Comcast vs. average poor guy) to scare constituents into voting for more regulations on their own life and someone else's business.
"The issue has stirred the passions of liberal groups that see the fight for specific Net neutrality rules as one that pits big corporate interests against the average consumer. These groups have been lobbying Washington policymakers hard ever since President Obama took office.

These groups claim that without new rules to preserve the Internet's openness, the Net as we know it will soon no longer exist. They say big service providers, such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon Communications are looking to turn the Internet into a cable-like system where consumers pay big fees to access online content." (SOURCE)

Here's my take on it --to my knowledge, there have never been laws in place ensuring net neutrality and none of these horror scenarios have come to fruition...so what would motivate companies to start now? Especially knowing there are so many out there pushing to regulate them?

But Google and Verizon (and unlikely duo), may have saved everyone from having to read anymore brain numbing articles about this. They have teamed together to offer a proposal to address the would-be problem:

Their proposal was presented as "policy framework for lawmakers translates these principles into a fully enforceable broadband Internet policy. In developing this framework, we were guided by two principles: our commitment to an open Internet, and the need for continued investment in broadband infrastructure, which is critical to U.S. global competitiveness." (source)

Though my skin crawls at the thought of any more government regulation this proposal sounds like a fairly good compromise on the issue (or at least a way to keep Congress from passing more slippery-slope regulatory laws)...EXCEPT one section:

"Regulatory Authority: The FCC would have exclusive authority to oversee broadband Internet access service, but would not have any authority over Internet software applications, content or services.Regulatory authorities would not be permitted to regulate broadband Internet access service."

The FCC scares me. And these appointed-not-elected individuals should not be granted any further authority which they could (and would) somehow morph into deciding Internet content...

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