Don’t Feel the Love

Posted on April 7, 2010

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Yesterday, a federal court ruled that the FCC does not have the authority to enforce net neutrality. The court is basically giving big business (Comcast, AT&T, Verizon) carte blanche to rule the Internet. After all, these big guys paid for their networks and they can run them any way they want, including slowing traffic to your site because you offer competing services, or you promote a view that these big guys don’t like. Freedom of the press meets A.J. Liebling on the Internet: the net’s free to whomever pays for it. Don’t like it? Well, set up your own information superhighway. In the past we didn’t take the same attitude about phone service or the power grid. Without federal incentives (read: carrot and stick), large parts of our country that are poor and rural would not have electricity or landline phone service today. Without FCC regulation over the Internet, there’s no carrot and stick ability available to cajole the major carriers into expanding broadband service into areas that are too costly for these carriers to go right now. The FCC can go to Congress for a mandate and in doing so would most definitely encounter a sizable amount of lobbying money from Comcast et al. There’s also the problem of Congress laying a whole new political agenda on authorizing FCC regulation. The right might be able to tack on a “seven naughty words” indecency provision making the network owners liable for allowing indecent traffic on the network. And Congress would also be responsible for figuring out how to establish fairness on net traffic where one small company cannot hog network traffic…

Yesterday, a federal court ruled that the FCC does not have the authority to enforce net neutrality.
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