FCC takes a hit in Internet battle

As the battle for network neutrality continues, it can be easy to get lost in the tornado of opinions, proposals and solutions swirling around us everyday. It may seem as though nothing has changed, but if you've been watching the news recently you may have heard that a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, in their battle against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). According to the New York Times, Comcast asserted that it had the "right to slow its cable customers' access to a file-sharing service called BitTorrent." Net neutrality was not the issue here, instead it was whether or not the FCC "had authority to regulate Comcast's network management practices," which the court felt was not in the FCC's power.

This battle is, and has been since the beginning, a childish game of finger pointing. On the one hand, we have the major telephone companies lobbying (bribing) Congress not to pass the Network Neutrality bill. Supposedly, they have no intentions of changing the Internet as it currently exists, yet there have been incidents of Internet providers choking off access, hoping users would then purchase their premium services.

According to Megan Tady, a campaign coordinator for Free Press, Internet providers all over the United States are already using technology "designed to filter and spy on content in order to extract additional profits from your Internet traffic." Multiple lawsuits have been filed, but Comcast's win was the ultimate blow to the FCC's control and a boon to corporate greed.

On the other hand, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) proposed a new solution to the madness in an op-ed on the Daily Kos Web site, saying the FCC should reclassify the Internet from "information service," to "communications service." This would give the FCC the same control over the Internet that it already has over the radio and TV. To some this looks like a perfect solution, but let's just work out the pros and cons here.

If the Internet is reclassified, the FCC would have the power to impose net neutrality and keep telecom companies from trafficking and selling the Internet as they please; a definite pro. However, the FCC would also be capable of censoring the Internet the same way they censor radio and TV. This could lead to regulating profanity in language, pictures, and yes, even porn. Free speech on the Internet would be in danger.

However, there is a solution. You can e-mail your representative at house.gov and tell them to support the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (HR 3458). By supporting this Act, you are protecting net neutrality and establishing a free and open Internet for all users across the nation.