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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The F.C.C vs. Internet Service Providers

So what does it take to get Republicans and Democrats to nearly universally agree on something? Apparently, wanting to control the purse strings of the internet. A branch of government, called the FCC (The Federal Communication Commission), has a strange desire to regulate Broadband and internet service fee's. Now the FCC is notorious for being buzz kills. Effectively, their idea would be to tell Comcast, or Verizon, or who ever your ISP is, how much, they can charge you and their rules and regulations. So it'd be the governments way, or the high way. My first knee jerk reaction to this was one of anger, just another way the government is trying to control everything. While this is true, they are indeed dipping their hand a bit deep in the cookie jar, the results may not be too bad. There was a meeting today (December 21st) that ended in approval of their regulations. At least for now, the FCC is trying to make large Broadband companies more transparent to its consumers. Three basic rules have been implemented:

1. No More Blocking Legal Content
No ISP can block competitors web sites, or any material that is deemed lawful. I believe it was Verizon who tried to put a ban on P2P sharing, by disabling certain websites. The FCC, put a stop to practices like that.

2. Transparency between the Company and Its Consumers
So if anyone calls up their ISP, they must disclose managament practices, and commericial terms, in order to let the consumer make a fair and balanced decision to the use of their service.

3. No discrimination that would be deemed "unreasonable"
This is a cool one, I like this rule. Lets say Company X wants Company Y's website to appear slow, unresponsive compared to their own site. They could pay whatever ISP money to bring down the speed of the site. This rule makes such practices illegal.

The most basic and fundamental part of this is that they want a person, who doesn't have much money and the richest person in the world, to able to use the same internet. One shouldn't have a faster connection or better content than the other. This socialization of the wired world may sound good for us, but is more begrudgingly accepted by ISP's. Comcast who, sued the FCC for trying to stop them from banning P2P sharing, left the department worried that they didn't have enough control over the way of the internet. Comcast won the suit and deemed that the FCC didn't have the power to tell the company how to run its business. Well now, today, December 21st, that changed. The FCC granted itself more power in order to handle situations like that. Meaning the FCC is going to be the watch dog of the ISP world.

What I'm not liking is the impending what if's. If a branch of the government has control over regulations for ISP's, that means they could themselves make up their own restrictions. While I appreciate them trying to level the playing field, between ISP and consumer, in due time, what happens when the FCC wants something taken down? Demand Verizon, or Comcast, that it should be removed? They're be no stopping what they could and couldn't censor. It just seems like we're trading one bad hand for another. Now as I had time to digest this, I'm not sure if this is really such a bad thing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of big government, stepping into out business, especially something as free as the internet. But them regulating ISP providers and keeping them in line really doesn't hurt us, in fact it makes sure that they're staying clean. One rule that I'm really liking is that the pricing (for now) has to be constant. You can't charge someone more because he downloads more. I think distributing the money to all subscribers is better than piling it on the few people who use up more bandwidth than others. What do you guys think? Chime in

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1 comment:

  1. All I want is enough regulation to ensure that a few private companies aren't able to basically own the internet and dictate what content I can and cannot access.

    I'm not a fan of Big Brother keeping me safe from myself, but I'm also not a fan of Big Business being able to punish me because I don't buy its products, and instead buy someone else's product.

    I see it this way: the FCC is accountable to Congress and the President. The President appoints a FCC commissioner. Congress can overrule the FCC by legislation. Although the whims of an electorate might change at any given time, there is accountability to you and I, no matter how tenuous.

    Big Business is another matter altogether. Do we want to allow Comcast to limit bandwidth to competitors' websites, or, for example, a politician or political candidate it disagrees with? Freedom of Speech is only a protection against the government, not private persons. Don't believe me? Walk into a grocery store and start talking to customers about a better, cheaper grocery store. That business can and will throw you out. It's their property.

    Do we want the internet to be considered the property of ISPs? The internet is more than just the physical property of wires, servers, or "a series of tubes". It's INFORMATION.

    Big Business already has rights to the physical property, but now they want to claim ownership over the INFORMATION that you and I create, in which the internet itself is only the medium.

    I don't want the government to limit what I can and cannot say on your blog. But I also don't want an ISP to limit my bandwidth to a website owned/affiliated with their competitor...or with a political candidate I wish to support.

    Politicians are accountable to the people, and can change the regulations. Private corporations are accountable to their shareholders, unless a law has been broken.

    The FCC is just providing that law, in a weak version, with this Net Neutrality policy. ISPs aren't defacto owners of the internet. For now.