I’ll answer the second question first – yes, we should be worried. As for the first question, while the proposed rules specifically state that they won’t allow the ISPs to slow down access, they also would allow the larger ISPs to charge content providers such as Netflix premium fees for the ability to deliver their content faster. The problems with this should be self evident; there’s a finite amount of bandwidth available, and the smaller ISPs and content providers won’t be able to afford to stay in the game for very long.
A New York Times article reports Tom Wheeler, the FCC chairman, as saying that speculation that the F.C.C. was “gutting the open Internet rule” is “flat out wrong,” and that the new rules will provide for net neutrality yet “follow the roadmap established by the court as to how to enforce rules of the road that protect an open Internet.” He further states that the new proposal would prevent them from acting “in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.” Personally, I can’t see how any tiering at all could be considered enforcing neutrality.
Is this the end of the road? Fortunately, not quite yet. The FCC should vote on introducing the proposed rules for public comment on May 15th. Before and during the public comment period, you can contact your Congressthing and let it know that this is not a good plan. Sign the new White House petition, and tell your friends and neighbors why they should sign it, too.
Net neutrality’s still not dead, but it still smells funny…