100+ major tech companies have voiced some opposition in defense from a new proposal from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler that would make concessions to a “pay to play” model of network management; which would allow ISPs to charge companies for preferential treatment.
These new rules, which are supposed to be voted on May 15, are anticipated to make a major stand against “net neutrality,” which is the idea of a level playing field for all: ISPs should treat all data that travels over their networks equally.
The good principled proposal by Wheeler, a former government lobbyist has been opposed in writing by the likes of Google, Reddit, Facebook, Amazon, and others. The proposal reads that the FCC should *not* permit “individualized bargaining and discrimination.”
The Open Internet Order, a prior attempt by the FCC to set forth regulations in favor of net neutrality, was shot down in January by a federal court that stated that it exceeded the FCC’s authority.
According to the FCC, the latest plan will prohibit ISPs from operating in a “commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.” This obviously ambiguous wording has many concerned that it would be “commercially reasonable” to allow ISPs to charge companies like Netflix or Amazon a premium for better network speeds.
There are also some dissenting within the federal agency itself. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has stood up and said that the rule-making should be postponed for at least a month to give the public at large at least a minimal time to respond to Wheeler’s proposal.
Worried what will happen to its clients, web host Neocities is throttling-down connections from the FCC to 28.8kbps modem speeds as announced on the Neocities.org frontpage (by identifying visitors based on the FCC’s internal IP addresses).
While it is obvious that anyone at the FCC will find their access to Neocities only a joke, this is in an attempt to demonstrate how treating online companies differently online could make the internet segmented; where users and companies will need to negotiate network speeds with ISPs; rather than simply making everything fast, available, and equal for everyone.