The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has formally ruled that Comcast’s initiative last year to ‘throttle’ BitTorrent file sharing traffic on their network was a violation of net neutrality rules. The FCC announced their investigation back in April. This marks the first time that the FCC has found a company to have violated net neutrality regulations. Comcast voluntarily ended their illegal practice in March of this year.
Many of those who call themselves economic conservatives, including the Bush administration, have expressed disagreement with the FCC’s findings. This, to me, is mind boggling. If you actually investigate what net neutrality is, you’ll discover that it is a very ‘conservative’ concept. If people pay for ‘unlimited’ Internet access, they should get ‘unlimited’ Internet access. The Internet is, in reality, akin to other mediums through which economic activity occurs, like telephones or highways. Telephone companies can’t sell ‘unlimited local calling’ and then charge you a usage fee for calling, say, a cable company in your area. Nor can they selectively refuse to connect calls they don’t feel like carrying on their system. Nor can they give price breaks to phone-related service companies and inflate service fees for cable companies. Nobody, not even these so-called economic conservatives, would support a phone company abusing its customers or providing selectively-degraded service in these ways, and yet they want to give Internet service providers authority to do exactly the same thing to the Internet.
I’ve purchased unlimited Internet access from Verizon Avenue DSL, and damn-it that’s what I should get. Verizon can’t tell me what I can and can’t use that network connection for, nor can they ‘throttle’ my usage on a whim, nor can they provide preferential bandwidth to sites that have paid into their bandwidth protection racket. The Internet became one of our society’s core economic engines in a large part because of net neutrality, and I guarantee that ‘economic conservatives’ don’t really want to ruin it by turning it into a giant ISP-directed toll road. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until it finally happens, we must enshrine net neutrality in law before Comcast, Verizon, Cox, and others destroy the Internet for their own short-term benefit.
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