November 27, 2017 8:00 AM
If you read the news articles around social media, we are being driven to the dark ages with the FCC’s decision to roll back an Obama-era decision to classify broadband providers as common carriers. The click-bait articles tend to make it sound like Internet Service Providers are rubbing their grubby little hands together to nickel-and-dime you for your daily Facebook and Netflix fix and are destroying the “free (as in freedom) Internet”. The thought is that if we don’t have a government agency telling ISPs what network traffic they can or can’t prioritize, they may or may not manipulate traffic on their network.
The true irony is that all of the griping over how the destruction of the Internet is occurring by the ISPs because they are censoring small voices, but where is a similar outrage against Google and Facebook when they announced that they will be the arbiters of truth? In this day and age when people try to be the first to break a story without all of the facts (verified or not), we have to be mindful consumers of information. The news cycle has gone from 24 hours to just mere seconds with social media. There are people out there who are trying to spread misinformation whether it be for nefarious reasons or more benign reasons (like satire).
People, unfortunately, will fall victim to it and pass it around as truth. That’s why sites like YourNewsWire continue to be around…they get people to pass their bogus click-bait-y stories around to sell ads (let’s be honest, that’s really what most of these sites are doing…getting ads in front of your eyeballs). Just remember, if an article sounds bogus, then it probably is. I believe I can remain skeptical on my own rather than having a private company, like Google, Facebook, or an ISP, or a government agency curating my web experience for me.
Realistically, the Tom Wheeler-led FCC took a light-handed approach towards net neutrality: there were no price caps, rate regulation, or network unbundling requirements (unbundling requires ISPs to lease their last mile runs to other providers to enhance competition) as a part of the net neutrality regulations from 2015. So, no, I don’t believe that the FCC will break the Internet when they reverse a two year old regulation. The Internet has been chugging right along before the FCC classified broadband providers as common carriers and will likely continue mostly unchanged after the reversal.
I’m sure you’re probably thinking “then what’s the big deal”? Well, for one thing, the Trump administration has been rolling back executive agency regulations, so it’s not surprising to see this one. For another thing, it rolls back administrative edict on how to handle our national Internet infrastructure, an edict that has been ruled in court as ineffective for enforcement against throttling or blocking of network traffic which tends to be a major tenant of net neutrality. If network neutrality is truly a national concern, then we need Congress open up a national conversation to review and revise the Communications Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996.