Thursday, May 15, 2008

GOP Parting Gift, Gut Open Internet

If we’re not careful, a new administration might be left with decidedly different, more limited, speed bump laden information superhighway.

eCampus Today reported, “The five-member FCC looked into "net neutrality," the principle that all Internet traffic be treated equally. Many schools and universities have come out publicly in support of measures to ensure that Internet service providers cannot serve as arbitrary gatekeepers to online content or create a two-tiered delivery system: One for users who can pay extra for preferred status, and a slower one for those who can't. Comcast Corp. and Cox Communication have blocked some of its customers who upload videos, music, and other large data files from using its network during peak traffic times.”

FCC commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein want to prevent Comcast and its competitors from blocking some customers. But Deborah Tate and Robert McDowell worried that burdening the industry regulations was not the answer.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin thinks the agency's Internet policy is sufficient, going with the anti-regulation conservatives. As if to placate the fears of the net neutral crowd, Martin said the FCC's policy needs to be enforced to guarantee that whatever actions internet service providers are taking "is tailored to a legitimate purpose."

Making money is legitimate, so blocking and means tested access sound fair too, right? Anyone think that adding more bandwidth might be the solution?

Martin said. "Consumers must be fully informed of the exact nature of the service they are purchasing." So once they are informed, the Internet disparity begins to broaden dramatically.
Hey, we were warned. But even that has a downside to free marketers. Commissioner McDowell fears that such disclosures could force companies to expose trade secrets.

But wait, Comcast, Cox and other service providers say the FCC's Internet policy is advisable only, and not enforceable.

Copps pointed out the problem the other commissioners failed to consider. "These are evolving technologies, and sometimes the line between reasonable network management and outright discrimination can be less than crystal clear."

He’s right. Who would know the level of discrimination ISP’s might use to pad their bottom line? Just as long as they can without burdensome regulations.

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