Net neutrality gets a kick in the teeth

Net neutrality gets a kick in the teeth

Summary: A US court has ruled against the FCC's Open Internet regulations, putting the future of net neutrality completely up in the air.


The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled in the case of Verizon et al. v. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and it's bad, bad news for net neutrality. The court struck down the FCC's Open Internet regulations.

Net Neutrality tombstone

These rules, as the FCC describes them, are there to preserve the Internet as we know it. Today's Internet is "open because it uses free, publicly available standards that anyone can access and build to, and it treats all traffic that flows across the network in roughly the same way. The principle of the Open Internet is sometimes referred to as “net neutrality.” Under this principle, consumers can make their own choices about what applications and services to use and are free to decide what lawful content they want to access, create, or share with others. This openness promotes competition and enables investment and innovation."

So much for those noble ideas.

If this decision is upheld after a potential appeal to the US Supreme Court, Verizon and buddies will be free to make content providers pay extra to increase the speed to their content. Or, worse still, Verizon, et al. would be free to charge media companies, such as CBS, or Internet content providers, such as Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Amazon, more money to get the same level of Internet broadband they do now.

And, who at the end of the day will really get charged more? I'll give you three guesses, and the first don't count. Yes, that's right, we the Internet users will end up paying more. The media companies and content providers will pass on the additional costs to you and me.

Thanks Verizon. Thanks a lot.

Some people, like my buddy Larry Seltzer can't see Verizon and the other ISPs doing this kind of thing to content providers. I can.

Think about it. Netflix eats up more Internet bandwidth than any other Internet service. Netflix's traffic keeps growing and it's about to explode. Netflix has started broadcasting a handful of shows in 4K Ultra HD. These shows will require a speed of approximately of 15.6 megabits per second (Mbps).

You don't think Verizon wants a piece of the action for providing the high-speed pipes 4K video will require? I sure would if I were in their shoes.

We've also seen in just the last few days that the content providers aren't happy about letting "free" content, such as over-the-air (OTA) TV on the Internet at all. Put these factors together and I see an Internet that's far less open not just to entertainment, but to all kinds of content.

None of this is set in stone yet. The next step for net neutrality is for the FCC to come up with a new set of rules. The Supreme Court must rule on the legality of OTA content being shared over the Internet.

Across the pond, the European Union is dead set in favor of net neutrality, so some companies might decide to host their Websites in Europe to avoid the US' regulations. I could see Google/YouTube or Netflix doing that.

Sound crazy? I think it would be crazy like a fox. The EU is already trying to grab a big hunk of American cloud services business because of NSA privacy fears, so why couldn't EU-based content delivery networks and website-hosting businesses host US regulation-free sites there as well? I'd consider it, if I were a content provider.

There's one good thing that might come of it. The US government may finally spell out how the Internet will be governed.

As George Foote a partner at the law firm Dorsey & Whitney who works on FCC-related matters said, "The court has invited the FCC and Congress to finally come to grips with the digital, ubiquitous, riotous world of communications.  The FCC’s attempt to use the common carrier rules to regulate the Internet would never work, despite the very good policy of ensuring fair and competitive communications service.  The Internet simply cannot be regulated under rules written when there was a telephone monopoly.  Congress is reviewing the whole Communications Act and there is a new FCC Chairman.  The Court has asked them to get to work." Let's hope they do. 

This is all speculation now of course. Still, if the Supreme Court rules against sharing OTA TV over the Internet and Verizon get the rules set up the way it wants, the top-level ISPs become the de facto gatekeepers of the Internet. They'll decide what we can view and how much we'll pay for it.

I hate this idea. I've been using the Internet since the 70s and what I loved about it then, and what I love about it now is how open and free it is. If the Verizons of the world have it their way those days could be over.

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Topics: Networking, Government US, Legal, Verizon

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  • Pity the Children

    Watching all of the massive changes that have occurred over the last twenty years, it's hard to look and think this world will look anything similar to the world I grew up in for my children.

    I fight...I claw...I scratch...I do all I can do, but in the end, the courts, nor the legislature, nor the executive seem to give a damn about anything remotely beneficial to my children...or yours for that matter.

    When I was younger, wondered what it must have been like for the people living in Germany during Hitler's reign. Surely, this man couldn't have been "The Antichrist" and the "Devil" AND had such marvelous influence over his reasonably intelligent people... No. This isn't like the bible times where the people were illiterate...

    Or is it?

    Looking at what has happened to the judicial system (judges who blatantly disregard laws and attorneys who simply do not know the law), law enforcement (police with no true grasp of the Constitution, militarized to the point of the 1980's US Military), and law makers (Congressman who clearly carve out exceptions to laws, like the ACA, while touting it as better than sliced-bread to their constituents)...yeah...

    It was only a matter of time before the only bastion of freedom in the US (the internet) was taken down.

    What a horrid future...

    It has been years since I thought of abortion...thoughts of a younger, less mature mind. Now, if I am so lucky as to bring another child into this world, I'll surely consider sparing them this path to agony...
    • Seriously?

      You would kill your own child because they couldn't watch Hulu for free? Seriously? That's very f*%ked up.

      I don't like the possibility that the Internet will be fundamentally changed. These yahoos can't figure out how to run the government they are supposed to understand, much less the Internet they clearly don't. But that's hope and change!
      • Seriously??

        The only threat you saw in what GSystems wrote is that his children might no be able to watch Hulu for free? Never mind - go back to watching TV.
        • The NSA claims that only pedophiles and terrorists seek privacy

          A federal court today dismissed a lawsuit arguing that the government should not be able to search and copy people’s laptops, cell phones, and other devices at border checkpoints without reasonable suspicion. An appeal is being considered. Government documents show that thousands of innocent American citizens are searched when they return from trips abroad.


          "We're disappointed in today's decision, which allows the government to conduct intrusive searches of Americans' laptops and other electronics at the border without any suspicion that those devices contain evidence of wrongdoing," said Catherine Crump, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who argued the case in July 2011. "Suspicionless searches of devices containing vast amounts of personal information cannot meet the standard set by the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Unfortunately, these searches are part of a broader pattern of aggressive government surveillance that collects information on too many innocent people, under lax standards, and without adequate oversight."
          Napoleon XIV
      • Some people simply don't comprehend...

        between literal and actual.


        He would not REALLY abort a child based on net neutrality, but the REAL point He's making is....

        What kind of world are we allowing to leave too our children and their children.

        So far its comprised of: Our own government spying on US Citizens (NSA) using the guiles that it's for our protection (I-Robot style of control), 16+ Trillion in national debt (will be 20 Trillion by 2016), a President/DOJ that overlooks US Laws as it wishes simply with a wave of a pen (Selective enforcement of our US laws = Justice is no longer blind and thus is prejudiced).

        What kind of nation are we going to leave for our children.. and do you really want to subject them to the impending downfall of a once great nation?

        Only a fool would think the US is "Too big to fail". Just think of what happened to Rome and other once great societies.

        Take a moment to think what is REALLY happening in our society and how our government is slowly taking control and ignoring the articles this nation was founding on US Constitution) more and more each day/year.

        Any responsible person will (SHOULD) at least consider their child's future and will they be able to survive the world as its trending towards punishing those who are self-sufficient/self-relyant and making them pay for those who are not.

        Recommended viewing:

        Atlas Shrugged & Obama's America 2016
        • I think your conservativeism is blinding your brain.

          What you're worrying about is the natural endpoint of turning this country over to corporations to run and own. These "court decisions" are the result of elevating super-conservatives into court judgeships, and have nothing to do with Obama. Hopefully, these "shoot from the right hip" decsions will be overturned by upper courts, but the problem is that non on one in Congress today cares about this country. They're bought and paid for by large corporations, and cannot and will not correct any hair-brained laws and decsions by local parochial bench-jockeys.
          • Holy cow, talk about a disconnect

            from reality. The only conservatives on the court are Thomas and Scalia. For crying out loud, Roberts about tied himself into a pretzel trying to find a way to rule Obamacare constitutional.
      • Another action by 800 lbs dollar gorilla

        The president has been moved to appoint a committee to study NSA abuses. This of course is a standard bureaucratic maneuver to keep critics at bay. But the committee – Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies – did come up with a few unexpected recommendations in its report presented December 13, the most interesting of which perhaps are these two:

        “Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry.”

        “Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.”

        The first recommendation refers to a practice, though certainly despicable, that is something the United States has been doing, and lying about, for decades. Just this past September, James Clapper, Director of US National Intelligence, declared:

        “What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies.”

        Clapper is the same gentleman who told Congress in March that the NSA does not intentionally collect any kind of data on millions of Americans; and, when subsequently challenged on this remark, declared: “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no’.”
    • Pitty everyone!

      You're correct in all respects and I see that what I envisioned in the early 80s will come to past and thanks to the stupidity and ignorance of all politicians and lawyers...those are the most ignorant people in the world. We will see chaos in the US and all companies such as the ones mentioned in the article will migrate somewhere else where communications over the cloud will continue to be free and not controlled by the government and greedy companies. Give it 10 years and it will happen.
      • We are already paying too much ...

        As end users, we are already paying far too much for OUR telecommunications and with what is in store for us, we're beginning to strip it down to the bare minimum we're even thinking to go back to the good old antenna for the TV, it's supposed to be great for HD TV, no compression whatsoever ! We're also going to flush down the cell phones to get some of the privacy we deserve ! THEY won't get any more money from us with their SCAM ! I hope every body will think like that, it's a great time and a great opportunity to clean the houses and the businesses from all their CRAP !
        • huh?

          I don't know where you get your technical info, but OTA HD TV is certainly compressed.

          16 bit color, 720p (1280x720) x 30 frames/sec uncompressed is about 442Mbits/sec. Current ATSC specs call for a max datarate of 19.39Mbits/sec. and many stations split that between sub-channels as well.
        • What are you waiting for.....

          I dumped Cable 3+ years ago.

          Kept Internet and reduced bandwidth so bill was below 50.00 (49.99).

          Dumped Verizon cell provider and now using Page-Plus (Uses Verizon network). Pre-paid setup, but have auto-pay option through Kittywireless, so no difference in CC'd billing...except I went from $54.00 for unlimited talk n text to $29.97 for 1200 talk, 3000 text, and 500mb data. No issues at all and my brothers family (four) all switched and saved over 100 each month by going through Kittywireless and Page-Plus. Just need a CDMA phone which you can use an existing or buy one used.

          So far I've kept just over $3,000 of my own money (36 months) with these two simple cost saving steps.

          The options/solutions are out there...for anyone willing to look and stop whining about the costs.
          • Most legitimate companies pay big bucks for bandwidth

            But *why*, when they can used ZDnet's webpage absolutely FREE!!!
        • antenae

          I already have went to antenae it has been very reliable expecially during storms where the satelite goes out etc. been using it for over 20 years same vhf uhf never changed already had it adapted to accept cable instead of the flat antenae wire when I originally bought it.
    • Europe to the Rescue :-)

      Well, as the American government continues to remove US citizen rights and freedoms, its just as well us Europeans have a more chaotic (and therefore civil rights orientated) system of government (you try to get 30+ countries to agree on anything !). Especially after the revelelations of our ally spying even in our EU parliament, no EU government will allow the US to control what is free on the internet or not (we are even seeing EU only mail and internet access to prevent interception by the NSA - the US government seems to be under the illusion they control the internet, that changed a long time ago !).

      I would suggest that any American who dislikes their freedom being curtailed and being forced to pay through the nose for basic services just use some of the services being offered in the EU and elsewhere. Lets see your companies and carrier continue to charge unfair tariffs as their business walks out the door.

      If you believe these companies can't be stopped, look at EU broadband prices compared to US and what the EU governments have done to mobile network tariffs the last few years against the cries and fighting of the mobile companies. !
      • You have a right to internet neutrality?

        Seriously, you believe that you have a right to internet neutrality? Where did that come from?

        Net neutrality may be a good idea (I think it is), or it may not, but it sure as hell isn't anyone's right!

        Also, how about the property rights of the investors in internet providers? Should they subsidize your 4K streaming videos? Net neutrality by regulation only makes sense the ISP's are more-or-less monopolies, and only then if the property rights of all involved are respected.
        • We Pay More

          My family got hooked on Netflix and our $30 a month 6Mbps ATT DSL connection didn't have the bandwidth to handle it, so we jumped to a $70 a month 20Mbps cable plan from Time Warner. ISP's will continue to get more money as people upgrade their connections to support things such as 4K video.
          • fillow up to that

            Follow up to that... if every single family in California doubles their internet connection plan to twice as much a month....How much more money is that for the ISPs?
          • Do something

            These American ISP prices are simply amazing...I live in Europe and I pay 17 euros for a 50Mbps(yes 50) for a montly VDSL plan...Most 24Mbps run between 12 and 15 euros monthly...American consumer realise your power,and organize...If you don't pretty soon you will be slaves in your own country....
          • I think you can forget the Congress

            paying for the necessary infrastructure to support 50Mbps to all at affordable price. European governments have been much more liberal with infrastructure development. That development, of course, was paid for by the taxpayers, who tend to be blind to or forgetful of where it came from. The US tends to expect private industry to provide, at a lower cost and greater efficiency; the American people agree and are blind to the reality that the private industry has it's own inefficiencies: top management costs, dividend payouts and a reluctance to develop capacity ahead of consumer need.
            Oak Park Greg