Though I risk journalistic suicide in sounding like the opening of a Carrie Bradshaw column, I’ll take a moment to compare the Internet to our ideal of New York City: mega-sites backed by billions of dollars and impoverished personal blogs coexist in the same overstuffed cesspool of ideas, beholden to the same, often frustrating, means of transportation to your screen/mind: the telecom companies. And just as New York City’s glorious socioeconomic clusterfuck is caving under capitalism’s current state of ridiculous — and just as finding a space to exist here has started to seem like a dirty game of bribing and moral concession — the Internet may likewise be closing its doors to those who don’t have the means to participate in the parade of desperation.
Indeed, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is on the brink of revising laws governing net neutrality, with a new proposal that leaked yesterday evening. While Time quotes an FCC spokesperson alleging that service providers “would be required to offer a baseline level of service to their subscribers,” net neutrality proponents are inflamed over the fact that these new policies would enable payment for favoritism from telecom companies; of course, the websites that could afford the royal treatment would be the virtual 1% — Netflix, Twitter, etc. The worry is that it’s a gateway to a “closed Internet.” Here’s what angered folk around the web have been saying — visible, at least, until they’re relegated to a dark corner of cyberspace by this new development in virtual income inequality.
From The New York Times:
The regulations could radically reshape how Internet content is delivered to consumers. For example, if a gaming company cannot afford the fast track to players, customers could lose interest and its product could fail. The rules are also likely to eventually raise prices as the likes of Disney and Netflix pass on to customers whatever they pay for the speedier lanes, which are the digital equivalent of an uncongested car pool lane on a busy freeway.
From The New Yorker:
This is what one might call a net-discrimination rule, and, if enacted, it will profoundly change the Internet as a platform for free speech and small-scale innovation. It threatens to make the Internet just like everything else in American society: unequal in a way that deeply threatens our long-term prosperity.
From Michael Weinberg, Vice President at Public Knowledge:
The FCC is inviting ISPs to pick winners and losers online. The very essence of a “commercial reasonableness” standard is discrimination. And the core of net neutrality is non discrimination. This is not net neutrality. This standard allows ISPs to impose a new price of entry for innovation on the Internet.
This will slow innovation and enrich the status quo. That’s a shame.
Conversely, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said:
There is no “turnaround in policy.” The same rules will apply to all internet content. As with the original Open Internet rules, and consistent with the court’s decision, behaviour that harms consumers or competition will not be permitted.