After more than a decade of debate and a regulatory proceeding that drew nearly 4 million comments, the Federal Communications Commission is slated to vote Feb. 26 on new open Internet or net neutrality rules.
Roughly three in five respondents to this week’s Rochester Business Journal Daily Report Snap Poll support the proposed FCC net neutrality rules. (Read the RBJ editorial: Net neutrality matters.)
Brought forth by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, the rules would reclassify broadband Internet access—including mobile data—from a lightly regulated information service to a more tightly regulated telecommunications service.
A chief aim of the proposal is to ban three practices “known to harm the open Internet” that broadband providers might adopt: blocking (preventing access to “legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices”); throttling (slowing the delivery of lawful Internet traffic); and paid prioritization (creating “fast lanes,” or prioritizing ISP affiliates’ content and services).
The rules also would require greater ISP transparency. However, they would not include utility-style rate regulation or tariffs.
Wheeler maintains the proposed new rules are needed “to preserve the Internet as an open platform for innovation and free expression.” His position is supported by Internet companies and consumer groups.
But critics such as Michael Powell, FCC chairman under President George W. Bush and now president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, contend that net neutrality can be achieved through legislation, thus avoiding the “heavy burden” of public utility regulation that could add cost and stifle innovation.
Nearly 500 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Feb. 16 and 17.
Do you support or oppose the proposed FCC net neutrality rules?
For information on how the Snap Polls are conducted, click here.
I understand and agree with the argument that the Internet has thrived because governments have refrained from excessive regulation. However, it also seems likely that it has grown (and new entrepreneurs blossomed) because all participants were on a level playing field. Given the total dysfunction in Congress, picking the least restrictive regulatory policy available in existing law seems the best way to move ahead and allow for as much predictability as possible in the real world.
Wheeler doesn’t want the Internet to be something that can be price-rationed, as was the effect of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling on elections and political discourse in the United States. We have seen what Citizens United has done to our Congress and American democracy. If not regulated under Title II, the Internet will become what our political system has become: an instrument tuned only to the wealthy and the special interests.
—Kevin Moriarty, Webster
Having the Internet is no longer a luxury. The Internet has become as important in today’s society as all the utilities. The Internet must remain accessible for all people.
—Jennifer Apetz, Ferrel’s Garage
If you like Obamacare, you’ll love ObamaNet. The government rarely makes anything better (or cheaper) once they take it over. Same here!
—Lew Pulvino, LJP Associates
Without net neutrality rules, the Internet would end up being controlled by the wealthy and powerful minority—the 1 percent, if you will—to the detriment of the majority, the other 99 percent.
This is not about free speech; it’s about making huge users pay their fair share of the costs they cause (just as we tax 18-wheelers for their use of the highways). As a very minimal user (just email and web searches), I don’t like subsidizing, or being crowded out by, bandwidth “hogs.”
As an IT professional, I was very worried that the new rules would fall on the side of the cable companies and their near-monopoly, rather than on the side of consumers. I’m happy to see that it’s more favorable to consumers. That said, the FCC has notoriously had little influence over the industries they regulate. They have very little teeth to enforce their rulings. If they did, we’d have a la carte cable channel selection by now. The cable industry has forced all that to the Internet because of their stubborn ignoring of FCC rules. So, while I’m happy to see the feds not supporting industry’s contention that they don’t need regulation, I’m skeptical of their ability to do so in a constructive manner.
—Lee Drake, CEO, OS-Cubed Inc.
I absolutely support the FCC net neutrality! Companies such as Time Warner Cable have been ripping us off for years and will do so even more as more people move away from traditional cable to streaming TV from the Internet.
—Rick Corey, Penfield
A truly open Internet is critical to the future success of cloud-based businesses like NimbleUser. Regulation is clearly needed, as self-regulation has failed and already resulted in the successful extortion of Netflix and others. Both Tom Wheeler and Michael Powell are industry insiders and are looking out for special interests, not the good of our country and industries.
Net neutrality is another Obama ploy of circumventing proper congressional approval, just like he did with the unconstitutional illegal immigration executive orders, unconstitutional appointments to both the National Labor Relations Board and Environmental Protection Agency, numerous unconstitutional changes to Obamacare, etc. As former Obama supporter Jonathan Turley, who is a constitutional law professor at George Washington University, pointed out, the Constitution was written to protect America from politicians like Obama. (Tom) Wheeler was appointed by Obama to chair the Federal Communications Commission. Wheeler was an Obama presidential campaign fund bundler. This net neutrality act will allow the FCC—an agency unaccountable to the voters—to create burdensome regulations on the Internet. This will lead eventually to “public-utility-like” overregulation that will tax, reduce Internet affordability and accessibility. Only Congress should have the right to increase taxes since they are directly accountable to the taxpayers.
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.
Why this? Why now? All the preceding years were considered a failure?
How can we be for it or against it when we don’t know what’s in it? The FCC proposal is allegedly 300 pages long, but we don’t know what’s in it because it’s not released yet—just like Obamacare, which “we have to pass it to know what’s in it.” The Obama people are refusing to release the draft until after the FCC votes for it. The concept of net neutrality has some attractive features, just like the concept of Obamacare. But when a bill is 300 pages long, the obvious question is, what else lurks there that may give the federal government the power to censor, control and tax so the Internet is radically different from the free-wheeling conduit of content we enjoy today. On an issue this big, let’s get the proposal on the table for public debate, no more of this dark of night stuff the Obama Democrats seem to love.
The history of the development of our great country has been the history of free enterprise moderated by a democratic government representing the interests of all the people as best it can. The history of the development of the Internet has followed that. The Internet has become one of the greatest democratizers and facilitators of free enterprise the world—not just the U.S.—has ever known. It has enabled anyone with a PC and modem, or a smartphone, to both access and disseminate information without the big bucks previously required to control the distribution of information, and to do business in ways unimaginable even 10 years ago. That development is now under attack by some of our largest cable and telecom operators, who seek the end of what’s generally referred to as “net neutrality,” and who are using their big bucks to support their goals. We need net neutrality for the sake of fostering entrepreneurship, facilitating more open and available education, encouraging open political discourse beyond just the channels controlled by big money, and keeping the information superhighway open to all—not limiting access to the fast lane only to those who can afford it. I applaud Chairman Wheeler’s proposed new rules as a great step in the direction of maintaining net neutrality.
—Dan Ruchman, Ruchman and Associates
When the head of the FCC is vehemently opposed, might that be a clue? Government control can only result in more restrictions and of course increased cost. Why turn over a well-functioning system to the gang that gave us the Post Office, the IRS, the Affordable Care Act, et al?
—Art Elting, Palmyra
To suggest that we use legislation to regulate this industry is a bit optimistic. Michael Powell knows full well that any legislation at this point in time would be nearly impossible to pass given
our current legislators. I suggest that we allow the regulations to go through as proposed by Chairman Wheeler, and if that does not work after a period of time say two to three years, then we try legislation. Trying legislation now I believe is premature.
Another intrusion into our lives and way to collect more information and money from the consumer. Leave us alone.
I don’t support anything the government does anymore. Everything is either destructive or self-destructs before doing any good.
—Daniel Mossien, architect
Big money runs our nation; let’s have at least a try at equality. Telephones are in every household in the country and so are cell phones, let’s pretend that all devices and their traffic are equal—even though Google, Yahoo! and Bing do their best to sell out the Internet search processes.
—Wayne Donner, Rush
For me and millions of others, an open Internet is as vital as freedom of the press and free speech. Young people get the majority of the news via the Internet, and commerce is booming on the Internet. Any attempt to create tiers of service will adversely impact the free flow of information and business. I submit that greater investment in fiber optic lines and other innovative technologies will be needed to manage increased traffic. Providers need to find new ways to provide service, without adding cost to an already expensive service.
—Frank Orienter, Rochester
Is this a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist or is insignificant? Or is it just another means of creating additional federal bureaucracy that will continue to interfere in our daily lives and transfer power and control to a bunch of nameless ideologues who think they know what’s best for the general populace? Don’t we have enough bureaucracy and interference already? And with the federal government’s track record of seemingly screwing up and politicizing everything they touch, shouldn’t we all be shouting, “No! And leave it be.”
—Keith B. Robinson, Diamond Packaging
The Internet is the new telephone line. They both should be free for everyone.
More micromanagement of our personal and business lives by another over-reaching federal bureaucracy? Not!
—Tom Shea, Thomas P. Shea Agency Inc.
I’ve been on the Internet going back to the days when a 2,400-baud modem was cutting-edge technology, and you had to use your imagination when playing a (multiuser dimension). In all of that time, things seem to have gone rather well, and we’ve seen advances in many areas. All without much government control. This is just another attempt to bring in government regulations and control where there is no need, except from their mindset in controlling us.
The last thing we need is to have the government getting more control over our lives. We need less government in our lives, not more.
—Frank Gerham Jr., owner, Frank 401K
This can’t be a serious question. Go to the DMV, play on your smartphone for 45 minutes while you wait—and then tell me which worked better. It’s horrifying that we would consider letting the government break something that is currently working incredibly well.
—Devon Michael, Chili
I am totally opposed to a free-market model that would allow ISPs to price their service to the highest bidder. The Internet has become so ubiquitous to the common citizen they have every right to demand equal treatment.
—Hal Gaffin, Fairport
Smaller government, lowered taxes and reduced regulation. Do those three things and just watch the economy take off. When I hear FCC, I hear regulation. We can do this by legislation, no regulation. Thank God (Democratic Sen.) Harry Reid just dominates half of Nevada.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D.
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