After public outcry intensified by a coalition of tech giants like Google and Netflix, the FCC has announced they will be redrafting their proposal on Net Neutrality.
The original draft, which FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler refused to postpone despite non-partisan calls by both Democrats and Republics in the Senate, would have allowed ISP’s to charge content providers for preferential traffic speeds.
Now, the new draft will apparently make it so that each deal brokered by ISP’s and content providers is deemed “fair” by the FCC, and that no company is “put at a disadvantage”. It also looks at the issue of reclassification of the internet as a utility, which could completely shift the way it is sold, marketed and regulated.
While it is a step in the right direction, it is far from an acceptable outcome. The language may have changed, but the proposed rules on an equal and open internet have not. ISP’s would still be authorized to charge extra for content traffic, which would impact both companies like Netflix, and the customers who use them.
It also shows a continued reluctance by Chairman Tom Wheeler to stand up against telecom companies like AT&T and Comcast, both of which stand to gain a massive profit through this regulation. Both already maintain a monopoly on the industry.
The new draft clearly reflects the public input the commission has received, the FCC said in an official statement. The draft is explicit that the goal is to find the best approach to ensure the Internet remains open and prevent any practices that threaten it.
There is no way this is going to impress opponents. It doesn’t solve anything, and slightly shifting the language only puts a single barrier between these deals: the authorization of the FCC. Considering Wheeler and the commission addressing this issue has bent over backwards to make ISP’s happy with these regulations, I can’t imagine gaining that authorization is going to deter unfairness.
It is amazing, to what level such agencies have lost all credibility in the last year.