A new proposal for adjusted net neutrality rules is making the rounds among the members of the Federal Communications Commission and critics are already up in arms over the proposal.
While the proposal is not yet public, reports say that the proposal will allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to charge content providers, like Google and Microsoft, for faster delivery of their data to end users. However, the proposal supposedly also includes stipulations requiring a minimum level of service for all data.
Critics contend that the proposal could bring about the end of the Internet as we know it by restricting access to only those who can afford to pay premium prices.
So what is really going on and what is net neutrality to begin with? Here's a quick look at the specifics.
Net neutrality if the idea that all internet traffic is created equal and should be allowed the same access and support as any other. Whether is it a YouTube video, Netflix streaming, or a simple email, all traffic will be provided the same access without favor to other types. That's the core idea behind net neutrality, equal treatment for all traffic packets traveling the net.
However, net neutrality only applies to wired ISPs, like Comcast and Verizon, and does not affect wireless providers.
Why is this important?
The idea of net neutrality is considered to be important in providing an fair and open internet for all. The open internet is supposed to protect small companies and startups from having to compete at a disadvantage against entrenched and deep-pocketed existing services. Proponents believe that without net neutrality, competition on the internet would be severely limited and lead to a less-active environment populated by small businesses crushed under huge traffic fees.
What happened to net neutrality?
An appeals court in Washington struck down the original net neutrality rules causing the FCC to scramble to provide a new framework or rules.
What is the new net neutrality proposal?
The newest proposal has not been releases to the public yet and is still in its most formative stages. However, there are three goals that the FCC is said to be using to create the new rules.
- That all ISPs must transparently disclose to their subscribers and users all relevant information as to the policies that govern their network
- That no legal content may be blocked
- That ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity
Sounds good so far. What is the problem?
The issue with the new proposal is the suggestion that ISPs will be allowed to provide preferential treatment to some forms of traffic over others. This supposed grey area leaves a lot of room for interpretation, as some reports say that fees would be "commercially reasonable."
But, who decides what is reasonable and in what circumstances? Consider that the reasonable fee for a huge company like Microsoft or Google may not be a reasonable fee for a small startup company just starting out.
Nothing is set in stone. Yet.
So far, the new proposals are still making the rounds of FCC members and will not be presented to the public for scrutiny for some time. At some point, the FCC will have to invite the public to comment on the new proposal with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Keep an eye out for that notice and make the FCC comment on your concerns.