Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Today's Ruling on Net Neutrality Looks Like A Mixed Bag: Correct Me If I'm Wrong
Today, the FCC passed its first Internet regulations ever! This was a very important first vote in the fight over ownership of the airways, and you know we and other grassroots Media organizations were right in the middle of it.
We and 80 other organizations were signatories to a letter in early December in which we urged the FCC to:
1. Ban Paid Prioritization - if you pay more you get better access for your message.
2. Provide Adequate Protection for Wireless users - Don't let wired services "slow" down or cancel wireless signals that compete with their own services
3. Close loopholes - that allow ISPs to evade regulation
4. Don't partition the internet so that some paying aggregators are exempt from net neutrality laws
5. Establish its authority over Broadband Policy using established legal precedence in order to protect the rights of the consumer.
If you would like to see a full copy of the letter, please contact us.
Now, the new regulations resulting from today's vote which was split 3-2 along party lines will not be published until later this weeks, but the gist of the rulings are:
1. Wireless and Wired users can be treated differently. An ISP can contol your access. (This doesn't sound too good to me.)
2. Broadband providers can't block a legit Internet site or discriminate against it. (This sounds like a good thing to me.)
3. Providers can charge websites more for faster access but they are compelled to have full disclosure of how they operate.
(Disclosure is good, but charging more for better service - for what in some respects is like a public utility -- seems bad to me.)
4. The wireless phone arena seems a little unregulated which is good in some ways, but the FCC is not going to be the watchdog to make sure that mobile providers do not engage in unfair practices like blocking apps that compete with something the provider offers... except voice and video services are to be left untouched. (This can't be a good thing!)
What do you think? Let's revisit all of this when the text of the new regulations are published later this week.
Anyway, this was a big day for open media. Let's see how this all shakes out!
And by the way in another action, did you hear that LOW POWER RADIO STATIONS got a big boost? You can apply for a license for one and get one if you're a non-prof and can establish a good reason that you need to do a neighborhood broadcast! That's definitely a victory for access and open media. But I'll blog on that another time!