New internet, new rules

Today, the FCC unanimously approved Net Neutrality, a series if policies favored by the Obama administration for governing internet use to debated for the next 60 days. The Christian Science Monitor describes the regulations as a Bill of Rights for Net Users:

Broadband providers cannot favor their own content-just because they built the highway doesn’t meant they can tell people where to go.

Providers can’t limit access to legal content.

Providers need to have reason for changing internet speeds in certain areas.

Internet-based companies are chomping at the bit for the FCC to enforce these rules. On Monday, over two dozen internet companies, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google, published a letter supporting Net Neutrality.

“An open Internet fuels a competitive and efficient marketplace, where consumers make the ultimate choices about which products succeed and which fail,” the letter states. “This allows businesses of all sizes, from the smallest startup to larger corporations, to compete, yielding maximum economic growth and opportunity.”

This sounds like some good ol’ American capitalism with all the essential elements (basic rights, a level playing field, competition). So why is it that broadband providers are so vehemently opposed? Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg is worried about his, and other broadband providers,’ profit margin should they not be allowed to offer tiers of speed in their service. They are also concerned about how these rules would extend to the most competitive internet market, mobile phones, arguing that because bandwidth is limited on mobile phones limiting how carriers can operate could stifle investment.

While whose investment that would stifle is unclear, Red State seems to have bought Verizon’s argument. Scoffing at the “right” to use the internet and calling this a move from the government to create a “Single Payer Internet,” they consider this an infringement on the freedom in the market. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has already introduced legislation called “The Internet Freedom Act” to block the FCC’s rules, calling Net Neutrality a “government takeover” of the internet.

“Today I’m pleased to introduce the Internet Freedom Act of 2009 that will keep the Internet free from government control and regulation,” McCain said. “It will allow for continued innovation that will in turn create more high-paying jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work or seeking new employment. Keeping businesses free from oppressive regulations is the best stimulus for the current economy.”

Democratic majorities in both legislative houses might give the impression that this will be a guaranteed loss for McCain, but over 70 Democrats have expressed concerns about Net Neutrality. However, there’s also at least one Republican cross-over.

“Network neutrality protects the fundamental rights of Americans in using the Internet and accessing content, applications, and services of their choice. A well-reasoned network neutrality policy also ensures a level playing field for companies large and small as they create an online presence, and will continue to foster the entrepreneurial innovation found not only in corporate office suites, but in college dorms across the country.” — Statement from Senators Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, and Olympia Snowe, Maine Republican.

Google and Verizon have shaken hands before this knock-down-drag-out, releasing a joint statement touting their mutual belief in an unrestricted, open platform for internet use, innovation and investment, government flexibility, transparency and more vague niceties.

With the FCC having had its say, Round 1. FIGHT.

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  1. 1 McCain & The Telecoms « (pressed)

    […] Posted on 10/27/2009 by pressedmag Last week the FCC unanimously voted in favor of Net Neutrality, and the moment it was passed John McCain took up the opposition side with gusto. Why Mr. McCain […]




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