Among today’s headlines is the Court of Appeals decision to overturn certain provisions of the FCC’s net neutrality policy, ruling that they they exceeded their authority by telling Comcast what they could do with their web traffic. Comcast was regulating bandwidth to curb traffic for huge downloads via torrent websites which have essentially replaced the old fashioned peer-to-peer networks.
Net neutrality has been a hot topic in the last few years, and the idea is that there are no restrictions on what you can access on the Internet. Obviously, you’re paying to get service through an Internet service provider (assuming you’re not snaking free wi-fi or something), and the question has always been, can competitors block or slow access to certain content?
Well… now you can answer that in the affirmative, unless the case goes on to the Supreme Court and the doddering old fools suddenly have a heart.
While true, there’s a good defense on Comcast’s part about subverting torrent sites, which are essentially havens for “illegal” content, but the troubling matter is the precedent the decision sets. My brother painted a very grim picture of future web communications – one which closely resembles television options where you pay certain rates for certain types of access. An internet version of regular and premium programming, in other words. “And you get to tell your kids of when the internet started and everything was free at a flat rate.”