After clicking on the web browser icon, I swiftly head to specific news websites to inform myself on current events. Upon finishing, I will most likely check my emails and try to pay my bills online. After that ‘that is all she wrote’ because unless there is useful information sought within the Internet, the Internet is quite worthless. I despise social networking sites, youtube (because of their “great” commercials and “educated” users’ comments), and whatever other websites forces you to click on advertisements before entering the site because they are senseless and frustrating. Today (April 8th of 2011), however, I came across an article by Edward Wyatt of the New York Times which was quite intriguing.
This article was in regards to the rejection of ‘Net Neutrality’ by the House of Representatives. Net Neutrality were a set of rules appointed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) late last year to regulate how Internet service providers managed their broadband networks. This meant that if such a law was approved, Internet providers like Verizon or Comcast, would have the ultimate authority to restrict their users from accessing specific websites; especially from their competitors. Additionally, if there was an approval of this law, users wanting to cross the restrictions pond would have to cough up a few extra dollars. Therefore, customers had to pay tier service plans for additional exhausted amount of Internet bandwidth had the bill passed. Wyatt (2011) further elaborates that President Obama had threatened to veto the law if it was passed which made it next to impossible for an approval because “it will then take a vote by two-thirds of each House of Congress to override the veto.” Interestingly enough, some of the Republican Representatives were in favor of the law while most of the Democrats were against it.
Though dissonance is never superficial between the two parties, I find it interesting that the two parties were actually for and against the bill because somehow it indicates that the Republicans and the Democrats are being bribed to choose a side; particularly when the United States President has aimed to veto the law. Wyatt (2011) indicates that the Democrats accused the Republicans of protecting the interests of the cable and phone company; while the “Republicans countered by accusing Democrats of protecting big technology companies, like Google, Amazon and Netflix[...].” Perhaps this is just another strategic mockery of the parties to blame one another over a debate, but why would the Democrats and the Republicans decide on who to defend when the consumers are the ones that will suffer from this bill? An approval of this bill would be like a slap across the face of the consumers because we are the ones making these Internet providers rich. The fact that the FCC even bothered to green-light Net Neutrality glorifies the phrase ‘living so free is a tragedy’ because this would be like a complete adoption of the totalitarian regimes, like in China and North Korea, because the rules favored “limitations on Internet sites that people were free to view” (Wyatt, 2011).
Fortunately, the bill was revoked because Net Neutrality would have ultimately lend a large gap for Internet pirating to pave a road over its restrictions. The article made a small attempt to mention Internet pirating, but it was only to signify how the FCC illicitly authorized Comcast to block access to the file-sharing service BitTorrent. BitTorrent is one of the many file-sharing sites on the Internet and when one is blocked or confiscated many more flourishes. I am not aware if Internet pirating was taken into consideration by the House of Representatives, however, if the Net Neutrality bill was approved the prolific use of illegal file-sharing websites could have possibly tripled if not quadrupled. Why? Had the Net Neutrality bill passed, Internet providers, like Comcast (owners of NBC), were in liberty to restrain online access to other networks’ websites (Fox, CBS and ABC) from their users; especially when previously aired television shows are currently viewable online. Conversely, this will trigger Comcast users to seek what they are looking for illegally. That or give them (the users) a run for their money to an Internet provider with less restrictions. Then with those restrictions, specialized services and tiered rates are inaugurated which will use the “Internet pipeline to deliver dedicated services to specific customers” (Wyatt, 2011). In other words, Internet users wanting to watch 30 seconds of youtube videos; will have to pay for additional bandwidth through monthly plans. So the higher the bandwidth the larger the monthly plan, but restrictions may still be applied. What about restricting access to Comcast’s Internet competitors, like Verizon and ATT? Well, if Comcast’s users are mobile users and their cellphone provider is Verizon or ATT then the consumers would probably be in jeopardy because the users would be refrained from satisfying their online bills due to online restraining orders by Comcast.
The most ignorant part about the article (not the article itself) is that some Internet broadband providers are willing to challenge the order of this Net Neutrality rejection in court. One, President Obama acknowledged that he will veto the bill if it ever saw the light of day. Secondly, it will take two-thirds of the House of Representatives to override the veto. Lastly, do the Internet providers seriously expect for the consumers to pay for additional bandwidth when the Internet barely has anything to offer? If it were so, Tom Bernes-Lee should sue these Internet providers for every dime he never saw for the creation of the “www” within the search engine. If last year the Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC had no authority to sanction Comcast to block access to BitTorrent (Wyatt, 2011), I clearly do not foresee Internet providers having their way when attempting to reverse the rejection justified by the House of Representatives in court.
This was such an erroneous attempt to corner the Internet market. Perhaps because of the current circus formation inside the House of Representatives, the FCC thought their Net Neutrality bill would be victorious. What I kept asking myself reading through the article was, ‘What about the little guys? What happens to them if this bill went through an approval?’ (the little guys in this situation are those small companies trying to make a name for themselves as Internet based businesses). The little guys would have probably become obsolete due to an approval of the bill because of the power the bigger companies have over them. Thankfully, it failed miserably. There is an old saying my mom used to tell me, ‘When the river sounds, it is because it conveys something.’ This will not be the last time I read or hear of this bill. I believe this topic will take a long time to fade away because it does not quite seem like the FCC is going to go down without a fight; particularly when Internet providers are willing to challenge the outcome of the bill in court. I have often engage in conversations in regards to the Internet being dead then if it were, this bill would finalized its epitaphs.
Wyatt, Edward. 2011. “House Votes Against ‘Net Neutrality’.” – New York Times.
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