As much as I sometimes hate Comcast’s service, I was glad to see the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in the Comcast v. FCC case. While the premise of Net Neutrality (essentially, everybody should have equal access) is admirable, handing over the control and oversight of the “internet” to the FCC is not the way to accomplish its goal. Simply put, we do not need ISPs regulated in the way the telecommunications providers have been under Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Look what it has done to that portion of the technology industry. We surely don’t need a repeat in the information services side of the equation.
If you’re not familiar with the Comcast case, it essentially boils down to the FCC levying fines for Comcast’s actions back in 2008, when they blocked traffic to BitTorrent and a few other applications. The FCC claimed that they had the ability to regulate and impose sanctions on Comcast under something called “ancillary jurisdiction”. In October 2009 the FCC issued a 107 page “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” in an attempt to justify their “ancillary jurisdiction” actions against Comcast. In it’s rejection of the FCC’s claims in the Comcast case, the Court of Appeals has also essentially neutralized the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Net Neutrality.
So what does the future hold for the Net Neutrality? I think the last thing any of us want is a highly regulated internet/world wide web. But what happens when your ISP starts charging you a premium for access to certain sites? Or blocking them altogether? We’ve already seen how small things like search engine “tailoring” interferes with our desire to have a free and open internet. Are we ready for the ISPs and content providers to engage in a war over who can access what content, and at what cost? We’ve really come to enjoy the model that “everything is free” on the internet. But without some measure of control, it could get ugly. What’s your opinion?