Internet service works pretty simply. You pay a company like Verizon, Time Warner, or Comcast and the company gives you access to the Internet through a router or through Ethernet cables. You connect to the network and you browse the web. From United for Social Change to Google, the current model supports both the smaller and larger sites’ load at the same rate. Well, that may change.
The Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) proposed its new rules that would allow for companies to pay Internet providers for a “fast lane.” In other words, a company may soon be able to buy a front-row ticket to the consumer’s screen.
But, how would companies being more connected affect me? I’m close to them now, aren’t I?
Well, it’s bigger than that. The new fast lane regulations would allow further corporate bullying by corporations like Netflix or Best Buy over small businesses. To make a literal comparison, the government is allowing big corporations to put blinds over smaller stores. These blinds push consumers away from the smaller, newer online businesses towards corporate giants. By pushing business towards already developed stores, the F.C.C. is deterring future innovation. When people feel like their ideas will be ignored because of corporate favoritism, they become less likely to innovate. This is because when people knows that their actions won’t affect anyone, those people refrain from doing those actions.
Finally, the concept of allowing one company to prioritize its site is not only bad for future innovation, but it also ignores the wants of the consumer. For example, someone may go online to research local fresh foods. In an Internet without a fast lane, sites that offer local produce will load at the same rate as other sites like Walmart or ShopRite. If the F.C.C. were to allow pay-for-speed Internet, a site willing to spend thousands or even millions will load faster than a smaller business. The hurdle for small businesses impedes the consumer’s right to know about the benefits of going to a certain business.
The F.C.C. defends the new regulations by saying “The Court of Appeals made it clear that the FCC could stop harmful conduct if it were found to not be “commercially reasonable.”” Well, the only problem is that the word “reasonable” can mean virtually anything. “Reasonable” is one of, if not the most, debated word in the law. What does it mean to be reasonable?
There are all types of lobbyists. There’s the oil lobby, and there’s the pharmaceutical lobby. The problem is clear: the government is filled with lobbyists who will manipulate the interpretations of laws to fit their needs. But, all these problems can be avoided if we steer clear of the fast track policy proposal.
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[Image Attribute: GigaOM]