The three democratically appointed commissioners that voted for Net Neutrality

The three democratically appointed commissioners that voted for Net Neutrality

Paul Gordon Collier- On Thursday, February 27th, 2015, the five top commissioners of the FCC voted 3-2, straight down party lines, to implement regulations that are commonly referred to as “net neutrality” rules.  The ruling essentially changes the classification of ISP and mobile broadband providers into public utilities, giving the FCC the authority to more fully regulate the internet.

ISPs, in this ruling, will not be able to offer “paid prioritization”, or deals that give some customers faster or slower internet access according to the price that they pay,  In addition, the ruling attempts to stop ISPs from intentionally blocking or limiting access through ‘throttling” content it deems high-demand (like Netflix streaming).

In support of this ruling, an article from PC World points out, “You can also find instances where major broadband providers refuse to increase broadband speeds or expand capacity. America has some of the slowest, yet priciest broadband in the world, according to an October report by the Open Technology Institute.”

Supporters argue that, rather than limiting the internet and innovation, as critics charge, the internet will be freed up from artificial limits being placed on it by ISPs.

Verizon responded with a statement in Morse code that offered a “21st century translation”, “The FCC’s move is especially regrettable because it is wholly unnecessary. The FCC had targeted tools available to preserve an open Internet, but instead chose to use this order as an excuse to adopt 300- plus pages of broad and open- ended regulatory arcana that will have unintended negative consequences for consumers and various parts of the Internet ecosystem for years to come.

Prior to the vote by the five commissioners, it was revealed, according to a Wall Street Journal report that, “What Mr. Wheeler unveiled to the public on Feb. 4 was an outline of the sweeping regulatory changes that are subject to a vote by the full five-member commission on Thursday. Unless the chairman changes his mind at the last minute, the public won’t get to see what’s called a “report and order” until after the FCC vote.”

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According to the two Republicans on the committee, the actual rules are 322 pages long, but, as opponents to the rules put it, “You have to pass the rules in order to see what’s in the rules.”

The nature of the passage of a 322 page document outlining new rules for broadband in the name of the ‘open internet’ is not lost on the opponents to this move.

Our local US Representative, Congressman Tom Marino, PA-10, had this to say about the FCC ruling, “The FCC decision is a slippery slope which ultimately endangers our liberty. The American people have grown weary of this government’s all-out assault on their freedoms – and regulating the internet is just another way this Administration uses the bureaucracy to allow and condone more regulation and government control.  If you believe in a free and open internet then you agree this action must be prevented.  I do not agree with Chairman Wheeler’s heavy handed and brash attempts at achieving so-called ‘net neutrality’ by reclassifying internet services as a utility.”

Proponents of the Net Neutrality rules cite actual examples of throttling by Verizon and other major ISPs, as well as ISPs accepting money from such major sources of traffic flow as Netflix to ensure that customers can access their service.

The effort by this news outlet to get a firm understanding of the actual facts of net neutrality was difficult, if not impossible.  We are not alone in that observation.  Even tech-savvy experts argue over what the actual ruling entails and what effects it will have on your internet service.

The lawsuits are sure to come, which may keep the actual implementation of these rules off the table for months, if not years, to come.

We hope, futurely, to offer an editorial on this ruling. We also invite our readers to submit their opinions at tioga@freedomist.com, topic “net neutrality.”

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