"It was a grand idea, and for the time being, the Internet will remain ""free"" (see below for actually verbiage of the bill) - but in a vote that stunned consumer groups, the FCC voted 3-2 to ""open the debate for the internet fast lane.""
After the huge merger of Comcast and Time Warner, this probably should not of have come as a shock to the average consumer, but activist groups are very angry at the FCC, and maybe for good reason: from here until the end of the Internet this vote will have a deep impact for how ALL internet companies operate in the future.
Is This the End of Net Neutrality and the Beginning of Censorship?
Why? Well back before cable there was something called free TV. Major stations like NBC, CBS and ABC and PBS, and if you held the U-Shaped antenna correctly, you might get FOX or another start-up network, and then cable came around and with it massive regulations by the FCC. Keep in mind: the FCC is as close to sensors as we have in this country, and now the sensors are back (not that they ever really went away): and with their hands stirring the pot of the WWW soup - whoever pays them the most for the ingredients will have the fastest soup around.
And how to get in on the soup: pay up. According to the FCC's proposal, companies that deliver any type of content over the internet like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Datacenters.com will be able to pay ISPs (Internet Service Providers) for direct access to customers on any given network. Basically, they've created a ""fast line"" for who's will to pay their ISP the most money.
What does this mean for the consumer: fees are going to rise: how much will they rise is still ""open for debate."" For the past 25 years, the FCC agreed with the consumer: keep the Internet Open, but then huge corporations like Comcast and AT&T started getting paid by Netflix among others for direct access to customers, and it has reported those customers are seeing faster streaming speeds.
So in order to stay competitive companies will probably have to pay their ISPs more, and the bigger your company is, the more you can pay.
It is not all doom though: it could months or years to lay down a lot of red tape - and there is the possibility that the proposal could be shot down as the FCC debates. What is clear though: from here on out the FCC is looking into changing and regulating possibly the last utopian paradise on earth.
Although extremely flawed, and needed of regulation when it comes to Vice: What do you think about the end of Net Neutrality and the FCC's vote?
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Here's the full announcement from the FCC:
The Federal Communications Commission today launched a rulemaking seeking public comment on how best to protect and promote an open Internet. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today poses a broad range of questions to elicit the broadest range of input from everyone impacted by the Internet, from consumers and small businesses to providers and start-ups.
The Internet is America's most important platform for economic growth, innovation, competition, free expression, and broadband investment and deployment. The Internet has become an essential tool for Americans and for the growth of American businesses. That's because the Internet has been open to new content, new products and new services, enabling consumers to choose whatever legal content, services and applications they desire.
The FCC has previously concluded that broadband providers have the incentive and ability to act in ways that threaten Internet openness. But today, there are no rules that stop broadband providers from trying to limit Internet openness. That is why the Notice adopted by the FCC todays starts with a fundamental question: ""What is the right public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open?""
The FCC proposes to rely on a legal blueprint set out by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in its January decision in Verizon v. FCC, using the FCC's authority to promote broadband deployment to all Americans under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. At the same time, the Commission will seriously consider using its authority under the telecommunications regulation found in Title II of the Communications Act. In addition, the Notice:
Proposes to retain the definitions and scope of the 2010 rules, which governed broadband Internet access service providers, but not services like enterprise services, Internet traffic exchange and specialized services.
Proposes to enhance the existing transparency rule, which was upheld by the D.C. Circuit. The proposed enhancements would provide consumers, edge providers, and the Commission with tailored disclosures, including information on the nature of congestion that impacts consumers' use of online services and timely notice of new practices.
As part of the revived ""no-blocking"" rule, proposes ensuring that all who use the Internet can enjoy robust, fast and dynamic Internet access.
Tentatively concludes that priority service offered exclusively by a broadband provider to an affiliate should be considered illegal until proven otherwise.
Asks how to devise a rigorous, multi-factor ""screen"" to analyze whether any conduct hurts consumers, competition, free expression and civic engagement, and other criteria under a legal standard termed ""commercial reasonableness.""
Asks a series of detailed questions about what legal authority provides the most effective means of keeping the Internet open: Section 706 or Title II.
Proposes a multi-faceted process to promptly resolve and head off disputes, including an ombudsperson to act as a watchdog on behalf of consumers and start-ups and small businesses."