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The End of FCC's Open Internet Rules for Now but the Battle Hasnt Been Lost

The January 14 Open Internet ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has the potential of turning the Internet upside down. In the ruling, the court struc down the !ederal Co""unications Co""ission#s $!CC% Open Internet Order $networ neutrality% in fa&or of 'eri(on#s appeal of the !CC#s )*1* order in which they argued the !CC e+ceeded its authority to regulate how broadband Internet ser&ice pro&iders "anage networ traffic. ,hat is net neutrality- It#s the freedo" we all now ha&e to go anywhere on infor"ation#s superhighway at no cost other than an your Internet .er&ice /ro&ider $I./% address, and it#s the !CC regulatory ruling that, up to now, prohibited cable and phone co"panies fro" bloc ing websites while pro&iding special priority access to others. What Could Happen Without Federal Re ulation 0our I./ "ay not cost "ore. 1owe&er, chances are of finding a website that you can access fro" your I./ without additional cost "ay be a proble". An Internet absent the !CC Open Internet ruling "eans your I./ will ha&e an unencu"bered pathway to sell pac ages in tiers of ser&ice "uch li e cable pro&iders li e Co"cast and 'eri(on bundle their progra""ing. It could cost you to search with 2oogle, 0ahoo, or 3ing. 0ou could pay "ore to access weather reports, online shopping or your fa&orite news website. What Will !ost Li"el# Happen The court did not rule against the authority of !CC to "a e future regulations. The court said, 42i&en that the Co""ission has chosen to classify broadband pro&iders in a "anner that e+e"pts the" fro" treat"ent as co""on carriers, the Co""unications Act e+pressly prohibits the co""ission fro" nonetheless regulating the" as such.5 To satisfy the court, it see"s all the !CC has to do is to regulate Internet pro&iders as co""on carriers. The court#s decision, howe&er, "eans now Internet pro&iders are free to adopt any pricing structure. They could charge, for e+a"ple, 4content co"panies li e 2oogle Inc. or 6etfli+ higher fees to deli&er Internet traffic faster. Or, they could choose to degrade the 7uality of certain online content unless its creators were willing to pay up.5

.elf8interest is the essential nature of capitalis". That self8 interest truis" essentially boils down to "a ing "oney. The ca&eat here is that corporations will always choose "oney $profit, shareholder#s di&idends, and personal inco"e%, at the e+pense of you and "e. Co"panies li e Co"cast and 'eri(on clai" they support an Open Internet. 'eri(on stated in response to the court#s ruling, 4'eri(on has been and re"ains co""itted to the Open Internet that pro&ides consu"ers with co"petiti&e choices and unbloc ed access to lawful websites and content when, where, and how they want. This will not change in light of the court#s decision.5 3ut how is that any different fro" what#s offered in the e&eryday "ar etplace. The co""on "ar etplace of goods and ser&ices are full of co"petiti&e choices, unbloc ed access, a&ailable when, where, and how you want it, but only to the e+tent you#re willing and capable to pay for the". .o, don#t trust the"9 it all co"es down to how these fol s define co"petiti&e choices and unbloc ed access. !ree to use in the "ind of a capitalist "ay well ha&e a different connotation than free of cost access. ,e need strong, "eaningful, and enforceable federal regulations to control corporate interest fro" doing what they do best 88 "a e "oney to put into their coffers by gouging e&ery last penny out of us.