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Did They Just Kill the Internet?

February 3, 2014 in News Items

One of the key elements of Internet success is people being able to find and access the content. The technology to download or stream music and video has long been available, but it didn’t become a viable business until access to high speed Internet became more commonplace for the general public. When Larry Page and Sergey Brin, creators of Google, began their work to organize the infinite amount of information on the web, they needed people to be able to access their search engine.

In Verizon v. Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. has struck down the FCC’s Open Internet Rules. Commonly known as net neutrality, the FCC rules, created in 2010, require broadband providers to provide customers with equal access to all legal content. In other words, they are not allowed to speed up or slow down access for certain content providers in order to make it easier — or harder — for customers to access their sites. The rules allow the providers to manage their networks from illegal activity, i.e. spammers, but they are not allowed to block access to sites that are deemed lawful.

Verizon appealed the FCC decision, claiming that the rules unfairly required them to carry all content and no cost. Furthermore, they claimed, the FCC was making rules for problems which did not exist. In other words, the FCC had to prove that broadband carriers were blocking sites, etc. before they could actually make rules not allowing them to do so. Until then, according to Verizon, it is broadband owners’ First Amendment Right to use their “microphone” to say what they want by allowing the content they deem fit and manage their networks accordingly.

The U.S. Court of Appeals agreed.

Supporters of net neutrality have long argued that without the FCC rules, content on the Internet would be available to the highest bidder. Websites could market themselves as the fastest on the Internet, because they would have paid a premium to Verizon or other companies to make that happen. This, of course, would put nonprofits or startups at a disadvantage.

In a statement after the ruling, Verizon’s general counsel tried to assure critics by saying the way consumers access and use the Internet will not change. Except it already has.

AT&T announced last week that it was trying a new program which allowed content providers to pay a premium to have access to their sites not count towards AT&T customers’ data caps. In other words, Amazon could pay a price that would allow AT&T mobile users to shop on their site and not worry about using up their allotted data. The idea, according to AT&T, is that customers can enjoy greater access without greater cost. Of course if the sites you frequent are smaller and can’t afford to pay AT&T’s price, well, you’ll have to pay attention to that data cap.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said today that the FCC “will consider all available options, including those for appeal, to ensure that these networks on which the Internet depends continue to provide a free and open platform for innovation and expression, and operate in the interest of all Americans.”

There are some options.

As Chairman Wheeler has said, they can appeal. However, this is the second time they’ve lost in court and any action by the Supreme Court, including refusing to hear the appeal, could make the courts’ rulings permanent without Congress intervening. Congress can amend the Communications Act and require stricter regulatory control for broadband carriers and other information services providers. However, with the Republican controlled House and many in Congress a target of the providers’ lobbying efforts, this seems highly unlikely. The FCC can also rewrite the rules more narrowly, something that Democratic members of Congress have already said they are pushing to be done.

The simplest solution is for the FCC to do what they did in 2005 and reclassify broadband as a telecommunication service, bringing them under its stricter authority. Thus far, however, they have been unwilling to do so. The FCC believed that current law gave them the authority to create the rules. Furthermore, the reclassification only works for as long as whoever is in charge of the FCC supports it, making it subjective to political whims.

It is still too early to say how this will turn out. Just in case, the creators of the Next Big Thing on the Internet better move a little bit faster before the gates of access close.

Via: http://www.care2.com/causes/did-they-just-kill-the-internet.html

20 responses to Did They Just Kill the Internet?

  1. I find it funny that these telecommunication companies think they can create a restricted site for premium users. In my opinion this is similar to what the cable companies tried to achieve by monopolizing the cable industry. The government has set anti-trust laws for a reason and websites charging for greater bandwidth on certain pages will open the door the bigger companies such as Verizon and AT&T to restrict access to the internet and make a fortune doing it.

    • I agree with Joseph’s statement. These companies increasing their bandwith will greatly benefit them but it will put users at a disadvantage. Although their abilities are very real and very possible, I don’t see how it will help the majority of people. And the only benefit from it still comes with a rate of higher costs to users so ultimately there is no real benefit to these restricted sites for premium users.

  2. Verizon and AT&T are supporting this concept because they could make a ton of money off of other companies that want to allow customers to view their sites. For small, uprising businesses, it would be near impossible to grow as a company if they can’t afford to pay for people to be able to view their sites. With social media being a key marketing tool, and growing, small businesses would eventually all fail. This can cause an even more disastrous outcome where small businesses are rare and monopolies begin to grow. At some point, only the already successful, rich companies could afford to pay to have their sites seen and those companies could be all thats left. This could be far fetched but definitely possible. We should have the freedom of seeing any website and no website should have priority over the other.

  3. Much of the advertisement shown by cellphone companies today are televised versions of comparing and contrasting their rates to their competitors. No matter the company, the advertisement always says that its product is better than their competitors. It seems rather odd that Verizon and other phone companies do not want to allow their customers to view this information for themselves. While it does seem odd, it is understandable. Most companies say that their product is better, but their not including their competitors prices along side theirs every week in the local paper. I think, in essence, this is what the phone companies are saying. By providing the internet service for their customers they are somewhat inviting them to leave at anytime by having instant access to competitors rates with the internet access they provide them. This is a valid point, but it should not be used by cell phone providers. The cell phone has become so intertwine with the lives of its users that, any restraint to this degree is too powerful. By allowing cell phone providers to restrict what is customers view on the web, companies are allowed to redefine the “free market”. As noted in the article, this form of mobile internet usage will create an entire new market that restricts and possibly end, entrepreneurship. The internet has become the most accessible and cheapest form of information and it should remain that way.

  4. This is a situation in which the rich gets richer and the poor get poorer. Of course AT&T and Verizon would be accepting of this idea because with it they’re set to make millions of dollars. The problem with giving premium users access to restricted websites is that you’re basically taking away their freedom to fully indulge in their interests the website has to offer. Making smaller companies pay to give their customers full access to content on their site is demoralizing in a way because there’s a good chance it could backfire and leave their business in ruins. I believe every american should have the freedom to roam the Internet without restriction. We’re in the Information Age and more than ever do we need access to information to continue to evolve as a whole. Restricting content is the wrong path to take in today’s world.

  5. I find this whole predicament to be a giant waste of time. I have grown up believing that the internet is for everyone. It’s a place of knowledge that is only limited by the humans who create the content and the others who search for it. How would this work though? Would people be so keen as to participate in this tomfoolery of commercialism? If you really wanted to make your website stand out better than the rest, then use some content that will grab the consumers attention, and maybe have a product that is worth it. I’ve been watching these types of stories thanks to Tumblr and honestly if this does happen I will be shocked. It doesn’t do anything for anyone except for AT&T and Verizon.

  6. What this can only do for the internet is give companies who are on top of their markets and willing an able to pay to have their sites accessible at all times the control of the market. Small companies looking to get their start up based from the business they may receive from the internet will be given less chance to succeed in such an environment. The internet should be a network where anyone has a chance to communicate with another from anywhere across the world and from the comfort for which they choose.

  7. This would only hurt the market. Small companies would have no chance to get their names out there so they would receive no business. All of the big company’s would have all the website views and people would just go there because they cant even find the small companies online. This would create less small business and the bigger ones would just continue to grow and monopolize.

  8. The way the economy is today it is hard enough for new businesses and non-profits to survive this change will make it nearly impossible to have the smaller companies grow. The internet is one of the best forms of advertising and is a huge contributor to the success of many companies, restricting this will just give small businesses another obstacle to jump over in the beginning. It will make it a lot harder and more expensive to get your name out there and receive new business. I think that this is just another way to make more money, Verizon and AT&T would be the only ones to benefit from this not thinking of all the businesses and organizations they will be crushing along the way. It will hurt the ability to have new businesses with new ideas but it will barley affect the large businesses who are already highly successful. It will most likely cause a monopoly just like Kyle said because the smaller businesses would be dropping out left and right.

  9. Allowing broadband providers to dictate the type of access their customers have on the internet will cause serious issues amongst service providers and businesses. A broadband provider could have the power to charge business a fee to promote their website and to limit it’s end-users subscribers ability to access other websites that did not pay a fee. They also could have the ability to degrade the quality of the connection to a website which would force companies to pay for prioritized access. This will cause unnecessary competition between websites and service providers and new companies wouldn’t stand a chance against already established businesses. This will also negatively affect users who want to access websites that are not promoted by their service provider making internet use a chore.

  10. I am not a fan of the government in any form or agency, in the case the FCC, stepping in and telling companies, who employ working Americans, what they can and cannot do when it is a good business move to make that company’s brand better and to expand and hire new workers. In the article, it seems that FCC interference is an issue that larger providers have. AT&T is looking at moving to allow you to access Amazon without data charges, if you have a limited amount data allotted on your plan, going to Amazon will now not pull as billable data. This will cause some good ol’ simple competition. If AT&T offers it, then Verizon will start offering sites you can go to without data charges, and so on. That will make it better for all users, drive the number of data free sites up and can bring the costs to the end user down.

  11. I feel as though these mega companies are attempting to create a virtual monopoly. They are not creating a monopoly with just themselves as the primary beneficiary, but one another. Instead of AT&T competing, they are almost working together, yet still feeding off of each other because, ultimately, they want the same thing; they want money. With their size, money and power, I think it is inevitable that these companies will force some type of change that is in their favor. My hope is that there will still be a way for the smaller, upstart companies to compete. Paying the premium fee will severely damage the creativity and broad spectrum of the internet. Hopefully they will reach a “happy medium”.

  12. I feel as though this type of marketing has been increasing exponentially over the past couple of years and everyone is trying to use the internet in some way to make a buck. Whether it be a certain website requiring you to become a member to be able to read certain information, or whether it be certain apps, such as pandora, that require you to pay a certain fee in order to be able to listen more efficiently without ads. The freedom of the internet has been dwindling over the years and as long as the greed of big corporations is still there, this issue will not get better and only continue to get worse.

  13. I believe the broadband companies such as Verizon and AT&T are using this to there advantage, they are solely winning in this situation. They are making huge amounts of profit by using size, money, popularity, and power. Ultimately they are setting the rules on choosing which website can be viewed without using a persons data which in the end is persuading the user to only use those websites. Its giving bigger and higher power websites advantages. I strongly believe what the FCC was trying to do would help even the odds between websites, consumers, and broadband carriers.

  14. Companies such as Verizon and AT&T are clearly the heavy hitters in this field at the moment. While other compines such as T-Mobile are trying to make final business plans to make them relevant, there just does not seem to be enough power behind them. I feel that Verizon and AT&T are essentially monopolies and are going to continue to be despite the FCC’s efforts to disallow this.

  15. Verizon and AT&T are obviously the big companies at the moment and they want to stay at the top. Smaller companies don’t benefit from this at all. I believe that the FCC is just trying to make it so that all companies have an equal and fair. Despite the FCC’s effort I feel like the big and established companies will still be on top.

  16. I understand the reasoning of AT&T and Verizon because they see this as an opportunity to make money, but I believe that the thought of companies having control over aspects of the internet is a little un-realistic. Not only does this restrict access to people but it also makes it incredibly hard for smaller businesses to thrive and make a name for themselves, which is a main advantage of the internet and social medias. The internet is one of the last remaining places in our society where there is freedom of speech and little restrictions. Trying to put restrictions on certain cites will undoubtably take lots of time and money and may ultimately be ineffective in the long run. The internet is a big place and there are always ways around sites. This idea will most likely just cause outrage against customers and defeat the purpose of the internet, convenient and fast access to all information.

  17. This is something that has been going on for the past 10-12 years now this is a huge loss for all of the world as the rest of the world will soon follow due to a great deal of internet traffic flowing through the united states, This big business getting bigger gov’t that we know now can’t last much longer as it will cause a loss of consumer buying power thus eventually crippling our economy. Not to mention that the implications of internet providers being able to decide what we have access to seems to be treading on our freedom of speech.

  18. See, this is the major problem here, why do you need a $500-700 smart phone? It’s a market first and for most, they are out to make money. They do not actually care if you can’t pay the monthly bill or make premium payments to get your page to load faster. They ( being the company that you buy a phone from) just want their cut of the money. What they do care about is your blindness, to sign a contract binding you to a agreement that is overpriced. We’re millennial’s, of course we’re going to spend that much on it no matter the price. That’s the name of the game! Start a business, be great at it, matter of fact be the best at it. Create a barrier so high that no one can enter that market and just watch the revenue grow from there. Is this ethical, probably not. Will we still pay for it? More than likely.

  19. This is all about making more money, that is why companies like Verizon want this. Any way there is to be made more they will find it. This would be putting a restriction to the smaller businesses, which already in this economy is tough. Social media for most of the smaller companies is a huge part for their business. Granted it is a huge part in any business but the larger ones have the money to advertise more, where as the smaller ones can make a webpage for free. The only thing this would be doing would be making the large companies even larger. I’m wondering if this passes how smoothly it would go. Rules are always broken, how many people will misuse the slowing down or speeding up of the websites. The government has to look at the effects this will cause to not only the people but to all businesses.

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