What Will Really Happen if the FCC Abandons Net Neutrality ?
Article intéressant parce qu’il donne la parole aux opposants à la neutralité. Mais à trop vouloir jouer au centre, on finit par prendre le point de vue des dominants.
Supporters often link net neutrality to free speech and unfettered, equal access to the internet. They also want stricter rules to curb the conduct of ISPs. “Removal of the net neutrality rules could entirely take down the internet as a free and open source of information,” said Jennifer Golbeck, a professor at the University of Maryland, on the Knowledge@Wharton show on SiriusXM channel 111. “It’s going to be more corporate control over the content we see … potentially not just favoring things that benefit [ISPs] financially but favoring them politically.”
But critics say that too much regulation dampens innovation and investments in the internet, which has thrived for decades without formal net neutrality rules. For example, net neutrality would tamp down on innovations such as T-Mobile’s “Binge On” service, which lets customers stream video from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and other sites without counting it against their data buckets, said Christopher Yoo, professor of law, communication and computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania, on the radio show. Moreover, the order brings back the FTC as the antitrust enforcer of ISP behavior, protecting consumer interests and banning deceptive business practices. (Listen to a podcast of the radio show featuring Yoo and Golbeck using the player above.)
As providers of information services, ISPs were much more lightly regulated than telecommunications services — such as the old Ma Bell. However, the FCC did adopt policies to preserve free internet access and usage and curb abuses. In 2004, FCC Chairman Michael Powell under President George W. Bush set out four principles of internet freedom: the freedom to access lawful content, use applications, attach personal devices to the network and obtain service plan information.
In 2010, under Obama’s first FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, the agency’s Open Internet Order adopted anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules after finding out that Comcast throttled BitTorrent, a bandwidth-intensive, peer-to-peer site where users shared files of TV shows, movies or other content. Faulhaber says Comcast made the mistake of “targeting a particular upstream company. That you can’t do. If you want to control traffic, you have to do it in a much less discriminatory way.”
But the 2010 order, which also required ISPs to disclose their network management practices, performance and commercial terms, was vacated by a federal court in 2014 after Verizon sued the FCC. The court said the FCC did not have the authority to act because ISPs are not regulated like common telephone carriers.
This ruling led to the 2015 order by Wheeler that reclassified ISPs like landline phone companies, giving the agency the power to regulate many things, including prices set by broadband providers, although this was set aside. The order also specified the no-blocking and no-discrimination of traffic, and banned paid prioritization, which would give faster internet lanes to companies that pay for it. And it crafted internet conduct standards that ISPs must follow. Last year, an appellate court upheld this order.
The current proposal by Pai rolls back Wheeler’s order, and more. It classifies ISPs back under information services. It allows paid prioritization. It also punts the policing of any ISP blocking and discriminatory behavior to the FTC to be investigated on a case-by-case basis. It dismantles Wheeler’s internet conduct standards because they are “vague and expansive.” But the proposed order does adopt transparency rules, requiring ISPs to disclose information about their practices to the FCC and the public.
For ISPs, the issue is not so much net neutrality as it is about Title II. “All of the major ISPs like Comcast and AT&T are on the record saying that they support the idea of net neutrality, but they just oppose the legal classification of broadband as a regulated telecommunications service,” Werbach says. “I wouldn’t expect to see any dramatic changes in the companies’ practices near term. They’re going to wait and see how this all plays out, and they’re also not going to do something that will provoke significant backlash and pressure for more regulation.”
During her radio show appearance, Golbeck noted that the danger of fast lanes is that smaller websites that cannot afford to pay the ISP could be left behind. Research shows that “even delays of less than a second in serving up content [will make people] bail from your site and go someplace else.” Conversely, she said, if ISPs speed up access to popular sites like Amazon and Netflix because they pay, “it inhibits the ability for other new startup sites to compete.”