Terrible News

06Apr10

I might have more to add on this later, but this is just devastating. A court has ruled that the FCC cannot police net neutrality. Drudge is currently doing a victory dance, but this will actually really hurt freedom of speech. Basically, it could be the end of Net Neutrality as we know it:

The Federal Communications Commission does not have the legal authority to slap Net neutrality regulations on Internet providers, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

A three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. unanimously tossed out the FCC’s August 2008 cease and desist orderagainst Comcast, which had taken measures to slow BitTorrent transfers and had voluntarily ended them earlier that year.

While BitTorrent is often used for less-than-legal purposes (although much of this is still up for debate), it does have many practical uses, such as easily transferring large user created content. Furthermore, there’s a valid slippery slope argument that this is only the beginning. Without a Net Neutrality law, Comcast (or someone else) could restrict access to a politician’s website whose platform and policies they disagreed with; similarly, they could also restrict access to websites that criticized the company (Consumerist, I’m looking in your direction).

Thus, we can only hope Congress passes a strict law that gives the FCC authority to regulate providers. However, this gets more complicated in a country that apparently hates its government, and allows its corporations to fully fund elections. This situation will not end well.

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One Response to “Terrible News”

  1. 1 Adam

    “How is Comcast more reliable than the government?” Comcast is one of those profit mongering companies that care about nothing but making money. The nerve of them! Consequently, they response very favorably to decreased profits. It’s simply the market. Personally, if I used Comcast and was forbidden from using BitTorrent, I would switch internet providers. Proponents of net neutrality point to doomsday scenarios where all major providers collaborate to censor something. It’s really unrealistic and it opens the door for another company to provide without restricts, a much more viable product.

    The problem with net neutrality is that it requires price fixing – the idea that the same amount of money should buy the same product. That’s impossible, because no two products are the same. Will two providers have the exact same bandwidth statistics? Same warranty? Same customer service? Same accessibility? Same perks? Same repair options? There’s no way that is possible. Forcing companies to fix their prices benefits the big companies, just as FDR did with the NRA, which was disastrous. Fixing prices limits innovation and creativity, hindering the ability for a company to have a superior product. Keynes himself denounced price fixing, yet somehow the idea keeps coming back.


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