Net neutrality — “Gruberizing” the Internet…
(CUSA) – As political forces try to take control of and tax the last bastion of free expression some companies are supporting their efforts because it will give virtual monopolies to large media companies.
“Don’t mess with the Net” should be a phrase on the lips of every American. Our own Dennis Lohouse has the story. — Ed.
The Obama administration would like to throw a rope around the neck of the internet in the guise of, what some call, Net Neutrality. In a nutshell, since the the internet began, there has been an understanding that all data are equal.
Providers of connectivity, portals, and content agreed that one person’s data cannot be put ahead of another’s. While this has worked reasonably well and has lead to a virtual explosion of usage, there are some that say services such as Netflix should be made to pay more since their product “clogs our pipes.”
Turns out Netflix is at the heart of at least one FCC case because of its deal with Comcast to carry programming at higher speeds. As a user of Netflix, it doesn’t break my heart that their movies load faster and play without cashing. This raises the question of who controls the “pipes” that carry our data and can those pipes be modulated to benefit some or detract from others?
Put another way, should internet providers such as Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T have a say in what passes through the networks they have built at enormous expense? We are already seeing data throttling – that is slowing down data speeds – based on consumer usage.
We have also experienced the impact of services such as Netflix or YouTube which chew up large portions of our bandwidth. Some analysts estimate that Netflix can account for over 25% of total data conveyed on the internet during the evening hours.
It is clear that there are competing interests on the internet. The question, as is often the case, is what mechanisms should influence or control the development of future technologies and sort our disparate interests and commercial motivations?
Do we let the forces of the free market steer investment, protocol and content? Or, do we force equality and perhaps stifle innovation and growth? After all, what innovation do we see coming out of our utilities?
Up until very recently this haggling has been between the commercial providers of data and the purveyors of that information. The stakes have gone way up as a result of President Obama’s “suggestion” that internal service providers (“ISP’s”) be reclassified as a telecommunication services and thus subject to the same stifling regulations and TAXES of other public utilities.
One need only look at their cell phone bill to get a sense of what happens when the Federal Government steps into a common carrier business – taxes, user fees, tariffs. So far the only taxation to find its way onto the internet has been state sales tax.
We must tread carefully. We do not want an intrusive and control oriented government to take control of such a valuable source of free speech, commerce, innovation and participation.
Given the utter lack of transparency and forthrightness in Government, inviting the FCC to regulate and no doubt tax the internet, is certainly not in the best interests of this nation.