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Net Neutrality

posted Jan 14, 2014, 11:13 AM by Kevin Morrison
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia released an opinion today which struck a blow against "Net Neutrality" by vacating the portions of the "Open Internet Order."  Open internet is what you think of when you think of the internet - you can use whatever site you want and the data is made available to you regardless of which website it comes from.  The concern with stepping away from "Open Internet" or "Net Neutral" internet is that it allows the broadband providers to functionally "edit" the internet.  If they don't like a website (or the website cannot afford to pay them for premium speeds) they can throttle back the speeds which users can access the web site.  And this has real world impacts because it allows broadband providers to hold websites hostage.  Netflix is a prime example of how this could hurt the internet.  Imagine an broadband provider decides to create their own streaming service for video.  They could force Netflix to pay them money (or force Netflix consumers to pay them money) in order to provide high speed access to the Netflix website.  Do you really think Netflix would last very long in that market?  What about other innovative companies which face these new financial barriers to entry?  

Which brings us back to the order.  Why did the court decide to strike parts of the open order?  Because the FCC had classified the broadband services outside of the "common carriers" and as a result has placed them in an area where they cannot be regulated easily.  Now this can be easily remedied by reclassifying broadband services as a telecommunications service.  You can petition the FCC to do so here.