If Internet service providers are allowed to charge content companies more for faster access to their subscribers, then we can kiss net neutrality good-bye. My favorite columnist at the Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik (scroll), says as much in his latest piece, which was a little unsettling. And by "a little" I mean extremely.
Tom Wheeler is the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He's also a former telecommunications and cable lobbyist. And now he's proposing to make rich and powerful companies richer and more powerful. And, per Hiltzik, you'll be getting the bill.
Michael Hiltzik defines net neutrality as "the principle that Internet service providers can't discriminate among content providers trying to reach you online -- they can't block websites or services, or degrade their signal, slow their traffic or, conversely, provide a better traffic lane for some rather than others." That about covers it.
He goes on to warn us that the real threat to net neutrality is lack of competition in the ISP market.
And that threat will become a reality unless we fight back. Hard.
What makes this plan especially frightening is that it arrives at the same time as another major threat to net neutrality on which the FCC must vote: the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the nation's two biggest Internet service providers. [...]
It's this synergy between two anticompetitive developments that really spells danger for the open Internet, for innovators, for start-ups and for all consumers. As Tim Wu of Columbia Law School asserts, the Wheeler rule will leave bloggers, start-ups and nonprofits in Internet steerage. "They'll be behind in the queue, watching as companies that can pay tolls to the cable companies speed ahead," he wrote recently. The Internet's role as a facilitator of innovation will start to disappear.
Did someone say "bloggers"?
The Wheeler plan vividly illustrates how Washington has been taken over by powerful businesses aligned against the public interest.
This whole 1% crushing the 99% thing is getting to be appallingly routine, which, as they say in the vernacular, sucks. What will happen to us peons if this deal goes through?
So here's what's in store for you. If the FCC approves the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, Comcast will have less incentive than ever to bring its customers the fastest Internet connection at the most reasonable price. If the FCC approves Wheeler's net neutrality proposal, Comcast will have more leeway than ever to squeeze content providers, and consequently the public, for more money for barely adequate service. And every other Internet service provider in the nation will take advantage of the rules to the max.
So what are dinky little American like us supposed to do? How do we fight the behemoths? What are our options?
The public's only option is to scream bloody murder.
And you know what that means: Call your Congress members. Call the White House. President Obama has come out strongly in favor of "incredible equality" on the Internet. Let's remind him of that by doing as he has asked us to do so many times: Hold him accountable and urge him to go to bat for us. As Al Franken so aptly put it, "Net neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time."