If you thought corporations played a big role in your life already, just wait until tomorrow when the FCC gives up on trying to find a way to enforce equal access to broadband and finally kills net neutrality.
What does this mean? It means that the companies with more money and more bankrolling (and a better way to bribe services like Comcast) will have more broadband, while other, smaller companies that haven’t curried favor with their corporate overlords are going to be left with the table scraps. ISPs cannot legally slow traffic on purpose, but when you have a two tier system and the corporate approach to ethics (that is, “catch me doing something wrong, I dare you”), how do you tell the difference between slow and “slow?” According to the Wall Street Journal:
The Federal Communications Commission plans to propose new open Internet rules on Thursday that would allow content companies to pay Internet service providers for special access to consumers, according to a person familiar with the proposal.
The proposed rules would prevent the service providers from blocking or discriminating against specific websites, but would allow broadband providers to give some traffic preferential treatment, so long as such arrangements are available on “commercially reasonable” terms for all interested content companies. Whether the terms are commercially reasonable would be decided by the FCC on a case-by-case basis.
….The FCC’s proposal would allow some forms of discrimination while preventing companies from slowing down or blocking specific websites, which likely won’t satisfy all proponents of net neutrality, the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. The Commission has also decided for now against reclassifying broadband as a public utility, which would subject ISPs to much greater regulation. However, the Commission has left the reclassification option on the table at present.
The merger of Comcast and Time Warner adds an extra layer, making this read like the back story of a Cyberpunk novel. As Senator Al Franken said during a 2010 speech on the issue of net neutrality, if you allow these companies to merge, how long is it before there are only two or three mega-companies that are controlling everything you read on the internet, favoring the other corporations that lavish them with gifts and money while heaping scorn and slow access on those that don’t?
This is more than the death of net neutrality. Net Neutrality was the free speech issue of our time; with it gone, what remains of Freedom of Speech won’t be far behind. Soon, the only right we’ll have left is the Second Amendment — which failed, hideously, to save all of the other nine rights because it was too busy hanging out with deadbeat ranchers in Nevada.
You can watch a video of Senator Al Franken’s 2010 speech regarding net neutrality below: