A federal appeals court in Washington D.C. made an important decision today in the case of Net Neutrality whereby Internet service providers are compelled by the Federal Communications Commission to treat all Internet traffc the same regardless of source or destination, ruling that the FCC can continue to regulate broadband Internet access but that the FCC does not have the authority to tell providers how to manage traffic on their networks.
This is another win for corporations and the control they hold over communications between citizens. Essentially Internet access is no longer considered "common carriage" or "a person or company that transports goods or people for any person or company and that is responsible for any possible loss of the goods during transport" (via Wikipedia). "Common carriage" most frequently refers to things like phone lines and other public utilities and rights.
This decision basically means that ISPs like Verizon and Comcast can continue to be regulated by the FCC, even though they're once again free from the legal concept of "common carriage." Further, it means that the FCC cannot prevent ISPs from charging for specific goods and services like, say, Netflix access via their infrastructure.
Nevermind that all the cables and sh** are buried under your streets and schools and homes. These companies should be able to bill you for every image, video, and word you see on the Internet as they see fit.
While Net neutrailty rules in place since 2011 state that Internet service providers cannot block competing traffic on their networks, this latest appellate ruling opens the door for all kinds of crazy business practices.
Are you a Comcast subscriber who likes to watch Netflix? Well, you either need the most expensive broadband internet package with unlimited bandwidth or you need to pay Comcast to watch movies via their On-Demand options instead.
Are you a Verizon customer who likes to use Skype or other Internet calling solutions? F*** you. You need a Verizon cell phone.
Verizon Executive Vice President Randal Milch, whose company led the challenge against Net neutrality rules, said today that "the court's decision will allow more room for innovation, and consumers will have more choices to determine for themselves how they access and experience the Internet."
Milch left out the part about discovering how much we're willing to pay for the access we want, but he did say that "today's decision will not change consumers' ability to access and use the Internet as they do now."
I've heard promises from companies like Verizon and Comcast before. I've heard promises like "a technician will be at your residence between 12 and 4 PM today." If Verizon can't keep that promise, how are we supposed to believe they'll keep this one about a free and open Internet?