Will New FCC Rules Trigger Death Of Net Neutrality?

The Federal Communications Commission will reportedly propose new rules for Net neutrality that could undermine the principles of a free and open Web.
Posted at 9:45 AM, Apr 24, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission will reportedly propose new rules that could undermine the principles of a free and open Web. 

Net neutrality, the idea that all data on the Internet is treated equally by Internet service providers, will be challenged by these new rules, according to several reports. (Via YouTube / drawntoknowledge)

The Wall Street Journal reports while the new rules make certain no ISP can directly slow down or block data, they do allow providers to make deals with content providers like Netflix and Hulu for speedier connections, "as long as such arrangements are available on 'commercially reasonable' terms."

That "commercially reasonable" clause would, in theory, allow any website across the World Wide Web to pay for a speedier connection to consumers. But it's this portion of the proposal that has supporters of Net neutrality writing obituaries for a free and open Web.

Mother Jones went as far as to declare Net neutrality dead. The writer suggests no clause can protect against discrimination once it's been introduced: "Once you've approved the notion of two-tier service, it hardly matters whether you're speeding up some of the sites or slowing down others."

And Time points out the FCC chose not to reclassify broadband Internet as a telecom service, seemingly declining to go to war with major broadband companies.

"Such reclassification would have restored the FCC's authority to enforce the rules, but it also would have prompted a major showdown between the FCC and broadband giants like AT&T and Verizon. ... Instead, the FCC appears to have chosen a more politically palatable route." (Via Time)

But while critics claim Net neutrality is no more, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says that's "flat out wrong."

According to The Verge, Wheeler said in a statement: "There are reports that the FCC is gutting the Open Internet rule. They are flat out wrong." But the writer notes this could just be another clever use of semantics. 

"You'll note that he doesn't say that the FCC isn't gutting net neutrality, only that it isn't gutting the Open Internet rules. Net neutrality may be at stake after all." (Via The Verge)

In the end, that "commercially reasonable" fee is still on the table. Does that mean Net neutrality is dead? We want to hear your thoughts.