FCC Votes to Deregulate the Internet

The Internet began as an unregulated network of networks intended to allow anyone anywhere to communicate with anyone at any time. It was blind to who was communicating with whom about what. It was blind to who had more money – a small company could enjoy the same Internet access as a Fortune 500 company. The homeless person using the public library’s computers could enjoy the same access as a wealthy person sitting in a mansion. Internet access providers provided access to “the Internet”, and did not try to mess with it.

But Internet access providers got greedy, and began trying to regulate the Internet, too. They started trying such schemes as altering the Internet experience of a user, or altering the ability of a major corporation to communicate faster with their customers than a competitor could, based on ability to pay for a “fast lane.” Those efforts to impose private regulation over the public’s Internet threatened to destroy “the Internet” by regulating it into private channels of “Intranet” connectivity where users are pitted against each other. The privilege of a “fast lane” is of no value unless someone else has an artificial “slow lane.”

Today, the FCC voted to prohibit such private regulation of the Internet. Just as the telephone company cannot vary the quality or cost of a telephone call based on who you are talking to or what you are calling to talk about, Internet access providers can no longer try to inject themselves between your endpoint and the other endpoint to which you are connecting, and degrade the experience unless one or both endpoints pay a premium for the Internet access provider to take its foot off the air hose.

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