Bump Day: Net Neutrality

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Typically I want my Bump Day posts to cover lighthearted topics, but the issue of net neutrality is back in the spotlight. As an Internet content creator and consumer I want to share some information I have found and possibly spark a discussion among the gaming bloggers.

What is net neutrality?

It is the requirement that all Internet service providers allow unbiased access to lawful content. In addition, the service providers must agree to disclose service information to ensure customers have equal access to the Internet.

Does the FCC have a position on Internet usage?

Currently the FCC adheres to the transparency rule of the 2010 Open Internet Order. Prior to 2010 the FCC had already outlined a 2005 policy with the following principles:

  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
  • To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

The FCC presented the Open Internet Order on December 23, 2010 establishing rules for transparency, prohibit blocking and discrimination. The policy remained  for 4 years until…

The FCC’s rules were challenged in federal court, and on January 14, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the Commission’s authority to regulate broadband Internet access service and upheld the Commission’s judgment that Internet openness encourages broadband investment and that its absence could ultimately inhibit broadband deployment. The court upheld the transparency rule, but vacated the no-blocking and no-unreasonable-discrimination rules. The court also invited the FCC to act to preserve a free and open Internet.

If the FCC already has a policy that makes sense then what is President Obama calling for?

In President Obama’s statement on net neutrality he wants:

  • No blocking
  • No throttling
  • Increased transparency
  • No paid prioritization

Specifically the President wants, “the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do.

What have I learned?

  • The FCC already has a hands-off policy in regards to regulating the Internet going back to 2005.
  • None of the things that those in favor of net neutrality claimed would happen have happened.
  • Communications companies that have violated FCC policies have been dealt with.

My thoughts…

First of all, I believe Internet access is not a necessity of life. If I had to choose whether to keep paying for Internet or buying groceries then the Internet would be cancelled faster than you can say potluck. Local governments already spend quite a bit of money to ensure their citizens have open access the Internet at the public library.

The Internet has done quite well without government oversight. For example there are all kinds of illegal content not easily accessible if at all. The flip side of that coin is that I never have any problems writing posts on this blog or connecting to my favorite online games.

In his statement on net neutrality the President makes it clear that the Internet needs regulation like a public utility. To me this means federal government involvement. With the Internet doing well enough alone, why does it need regulating?

Additional Resources

PCWorld.com – Is Net Neutrality Good for Gaming? – Alex Wawro Jan 23, 2010

Forbes.com – Am I The Only Techie Against Net Neutrality? – Joshua Steimle 5/14/2014

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