Net-neutrality has become the buzzword in the realm of Internet service, both in the public and private sectors. On January 14, 2014 the FCC ruled to decline the position for net-neutrality. Because of this ruling, and for clarification purposes, cable and Internet providers now have the legal right to block a series of websites, applications (or apps), blogs, videos or cloud technology services. What this means for the average Internet user is, your Internet or cable provider has the legal right to determine if they want you to read this article, even further, to give priority access to content of contract services that pay a higher toll for faster and/or uninterrupted access.
This is not the first hack at net-neutrality. During the George W. Bush administration in 2002, the FCC made a decision to classify broadband services (i.e. the Internet) as an “information service”. However, there is a long-standing legal term called “common carrier”. Common carriers are organizations or companies that provide access to a communication media, such as a telephone system or Internet service provider. These common carriers exercise no control over the content that they provide. When applied to the Internet structure, this means that all traffic must be treated equally. Why is this important? Because, when the FCC classified broadband as information services it, in turn, made them exempt from these common carrier requirements.
Internet freedom, or what we would like to call, one of our Internet Amendments, is one of the basic rights allowed to us as subscribers of Internet technology. The ruling negatively affects the everyday lives of businesses and Americans and will alter the free state of the Internet. Since its inception, the open nature of the Internet has been a founding element of the technology, in that the user has every right of access and accessibility that founded the communication medium. This FCC ruling will adversely affect these rights and accordingly the rights of free speech.
It is unclear what the exact short term and long term ramifications of the net-neutrality ruling will have on businesses, but what is clear is that most businesses will at some point feel the impact of this ruling in the immediate future.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Should service providers be forced to pay a higher premium for better bandwidth and selection of content? Does the FCC ruling affect you or a service you provide consumers?