4 flavors of net neutrality (and this is the worst)
I’ve been aware of the importance of net neutrality — the principle that all Internet service providers should enable equal access to all content and applications — for several years now. The last time net neutrality was under siege, in 2012, NPR interviewed me about why the threat posed by its repeal was so grave.
The 2012 day of action/online blackout, a successful campaign against the restrictive Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), was memorable because major websites like Wikipedia, Reddit, Tumblr and Google went dark or displayed prominent site interruptions for the full day.
This time around? They’re not stepping up to the plate, doubtless because their bottom lines may not be directly affected, even if their users are.
But I didn’t know today about the different flavors of net neutrality around the globe until I read today’s op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News by Ed Clendaniel, spelling out efforts by Rep. Ro Khanna to marshal opposition to the FCC’s plan to fundamentally change how the Internet works in its upcoming Dec. 14 hearing. He writes in part:
“The bottom line is there are four forms of net neutrality,” Khanna told me Tuesday. “The strongest form would be net neutrality with a significant ban on zero rating. [Zero rating allows broadband providers to charge a different amount for different access to data, as it’s currently implemented in Portugal.] Right below that is what FCC Chair Wheeler did under the Obama administration: net neutrality with a case-by-case review of zero rating by the FCC.”
The weakest protections, Khanna notes, includes the European Union’s law, which doesn’t do anything on zero rating abuses. And worst of all is what Pai is advocating, which is to essentially get rid of all protections.
The guarantee of equal access to information has been the most fundamental gift of the internet. Pai wants to hand over control of access to the executives of a handful of broadband providers whose primary motivation is maximizing profits. …
We have less than two weeks to make sure the U.S. doesn’t fall into the same trap Portugal did. Join the battle to save net neutrality.