Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality Win

This might get unnoticed, but it shouldn’t.  It will have long-standing repercussions about the Internet:

WASHINGTON — High-speed internet service can be defined as a utility, a federal court has ruled, in a sweeping decision clearing the way for more rigorous policing of broadband providers and greater protections for web users.

The two-to-one decision from a three-judge panel at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday came in a case about rules applying to a doctrine known as net neutrality, which prohibit broadband companies from blocking or slowing the delivery of internet content to consumers.

Those rules, created by the Federal Communications Commission in early 2015, started a huge legal battle as cable, telecom and wireless internet providers sued to overturn regulations that they said went far beyond the F.C.C.’s authority and would hurt their businesses.

The court’s decision upheld the F.C.C. on the historic declaration of broadband as a utility, the most significant aspect of the rules. That has broad-reaching implications for web and telecommunications companies and signals a shift in the government’s view of broadband as a service that should be equally accessible to all Americans, rather than a luxury that does not need close government supervision.

What the internet providers (and some Republicans) wanted to do was to basically treat some Internet data as “more important” than others.  They could charge higher rates to, say, CNN, so that CNN would get on a faster lane to your computer than say, a blog.

But this ruling allows the FCC to promulgate and enforce rules that will allow all Internet data to be treated equally (hence, net neutrality).  Had the service providers got their way, the Internet would look VERY different.

Obama’s Triangulation: A Shot Across The Bow

Obama got on the Intertubes this morning and said this:

For those not wanting to watch or listen, he basically called for a strict policy of so-called net neutrality and formally opposed any deals in which content providers like Netflix would pay huge sums to broadband companies for faster access to their customers.  (Net Neutrality, according to Wikipedia, is “the principle that Internet Service Providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.” )

Net neutrality is very big among progressives and young people (including young conservatives).  To ensure net neutrality, you need government regulation.  Which conservatives don’t like.

This put Republicans in a quandary about how to respond.  Check out Ted Cruz’s reaction (via Colin Campbell of Business Insider):

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came out swinging after President Barack Obama wholeheartedly endorsed new internet regulations Monday morning.

Cruz, who is mulling a run for president in 2016, compared the entire concept of “net neutrality” — which posits that internet companies should not be allowed to speed or slow down their services for certain users — to Obama’s much-maligned healthcare reform.

‘”Net Neutrality’ is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government,” Cruz wrote on Twitter.

The more Republicans extend their philosophy of absolute private property and unregulated markets into areas that affect aspects of daily life, the more they may ultimately undermine their own message that government is always the problem and big avaricious companies can do no wrong. This was a good move for Obama.