Blow to Net Neutrality

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Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted down a measure supporting the principle of Net Neutrality yesterday, in a blow to ordinary Americans and a boon to Republican campaign contributors telecom corporations:

US politicians have rejected attempts to enshrine the principle of net neutrality in legislation.

Some fear the decision will mean net providers start deciding on behalf of customers which websites and services they can visit and use.

The vote is a defeat for Google, eBay and Amazon which wanted the net neutrality principle protected by law. All three mounted vigorous lobbying campaigns prior to the vote in the House of Representatives.

MyDD has a lot more on this, so take a look. The problem, for me, with the telecom’s position on Net Neutrality is simple: we already pay them so we can access the Internet. If they think it will cost more money to bring video services to consumers, let consumers pick up the tab. But don’t set up a situation that limits consumer’s actions online.

Here’s a simple analogy: we pay cable companies a monthly fee to get access to a set number of channels. What would happen if the cable company decided it wants to put out it’s own content? Or partner with a particular network, as opposed to another? Suddenly, the video and picture quality of your favorite TV shows decreases, because your cable company has a partnership with a different network.

However, the worst part of the bill may be the language concerning local franchise agreements:

Among other things, this aims to make it easier for telecoms firms to offer video services around America by replacing 30,000 local franchise boards with a national system overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.

Basically, Republicans in the House took one of their standing principles, less federal involvement and increased state power, and threw it out the window twice in the same bill.

Franchise agreements are used by municipalities to ensure cable companies and the like provide good service to residents. Since these companies have easements for their transmission lines, franchise agreements require the companies to maintain the lines, and also exact franchise fees that help fund community broadcasting.

Basically, the House has sent a message to every city, village and town in America: “Your expertise on local conditions and situations is no longer required.”

The FCC will now be making franchise decisions for them.