In what has been called the most important vote on FCC regulations in our lifetime, the clock is ticking on the hot-button issue of net neutrality. At the heart of the matter is allegations that some Congressional lawmakers accept lobby money from cable companies and internet service providers in exchange for keeping the proposed regulations from passing.
The regulations, while not open to public viewing in their fully-detailed entirety, have been hailed as a way to keep the internet secure and available to all users, not just ones who can afford to pay a premium subscription price to their ISPs. The effort is intended to block the concept of “internet slow lanes” for some account holders that are purposely less efficient than other accounts. This effort has been supported by ISPs who also function as cable television providers due to the fact that they compete with platforms like Netflix and therefore want to limit the functionality of live streaming movies and television shows.
Leading the charge against the FCC’s proposed regulations is Senator John Thune from South Dakota. Thune also serves as the chairman of the Senate’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee, but news personalities like John Oliver have likened the anti-Net Neutrality crowd as basically being a “mob shakedown” in which corporations that can pay more to have their websites run faster will be required to do so. That will essentially leave the “little guys” (ie, startups) unable to pay and therefore unable to compete.
Further complicating the issue is that the President’s appointed chair to the FCC, Tom Wheeler, is the former head of the cable communications lobbyists. Wheeler has been tasked with making the regulations that will determine how the internet functions, yet has a long-standing history as the head of the group that buys these votes from Congress. There have also been concerns raised about the near-monopoly status of cable companies, considering that most US consumers do not have a choice in cable providers due to geographical service agreements.
Thune wants to delay the February 26th vote on implementation of the FCC regulations until the public has had a chance to “weigh in” on the matter, despite the fact that the FCC has already received over four million public responses on the need to keep the internet a uniform, level playing field for all users.
[Image via Act.Watchdog.Net]