Democrats Heed Public Outcry for Better Net Neutrality Standards

by Matt Klassen on June 20, 2014

HBO comedian John Oliver brought it to our attention, we clamoured for change, the Democrats listened…the system does indeed work. Earlier this week Democratic congressional leaders introduced legislation aimed squarely at the Federal Communications Commission’s most recent draft of the infamous Net Neutrality standards, a revised framework that would allow for tiered paid preferential Internet service. The bill, introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, will require the FCC to ban such “paid prioritization” agreements between broadband providers and content providers.

The ongoing concern with the FCC’s latest draft of its controversial open Internet proposal is that it concedes far too much to broadband service providers, who have, until now, been treating the Internet like their own personal plaything. Such service agreements have already been struck with some content providers, most notably the deal between Netflix and both Comcast and Verizon.

As mentioned, a mild public outcry against the FCC’s latest plan was transformed into a whirlwind of vehement protest fomented by a recent tirade by comedian John Oliver. The bad news is, however, that this isn’t the first time Congress has tried to pass legislation protecting the Internet, with all such previous attempts having failed.

The concern with the FCC’s current structure of the Net Neutrality standards is that not only will paid preferential service  harm competition, favouring the larger providers over the smaller, but that it defies the very nature of a free and open Internet: accessible for all, equal for all.

Regarding competition, the prevailing argument has been that by allowing companies to pay for better, faster access to the Internet that it would “inherently slow down service for companies and websites that aren’t paying for priority.” The resultant tiered service would subsequently harm innovation, as smaller companies, usually the ones driving innovation and experimentation, wouldn’t have the same access as their larger competitors.

“Our country cannot afford ‘pay-for-play’ schemes that divide our Internet into tiers based on who has the deepest pockets,” Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), said in a statement.

That said, even with the wave of public support for truly open and equal Net Neutrality standards the Democrats still face stiff resistance, as there’s nothing more powerful in the American government then the highly paid lobbyists whispering in the ears of the Republicans.

In fact, the Republicans have submitted their own legislation towards their own nefarious ends, recently introducing a bill that would prevent the FCC from reclassifying broadband service as a telecommunications service, a move that would all but guarantee better public oversight and management of an Internet that, as it stands, is largely a private enterprise.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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