By Art Reisman – CTO – APconnections
Okay, so I fabricated that headline, it’s not true, but I hope it goes viral and sends a message that our public Internet is being threatened by business interests and activist judges.
I’ll concede our government does serve us well in some cases; they have produced some things that could not be done without their oversight, for example:
1) The highway system
2) The FAA does a pretty good job keeping us safe
3) The Internet. At least up until some derelict court ruling that will allow ISPs to give preferential treatment to content providers for a payment (bribe), whatever you want to call it.
The ramifications of this ruling may bring an end to the Internet as we know it. Perhaps the ball was put in motion when the Internet was privatized back in 1994. In any case, if this ruling stands up, you can forget about the Internet as the great equalizer. A place where a small businesses can have a big web site. The Internet where a new idea on a small budget can blossom into a fortune 500 company. A place where the little guy can compete on equal footing without an entry fee to get noticed. No, the tide won’t turn right away, but at some point through a series of rationalizations, content companies and ISPs, with deep pockets, will kill anything that moves.
This ruling establishes a legal precedent. Legal precedents with suspect DNA are like cancers, they mutate into ugly variations, and replicate rapidly. There is no drug that can stop them. Obviously, the forces at work here are not the court systems themselves, but businesses with motives. The poor carriers just can’t seem to find any other solution to their congestion other than charge for access? Combine this with oblivious consumers that just want content on their devices, and you have a dangerous mixture. Ironically, these consumers already subsidize ISPs with a huge chunk of their disposable income. The hoodwink is on. Just as the public airwaves are controlled by a few large media conglomerates, so will go the Internet.
The only hope in this case is for the FCC to step in and take back the Internet. Give it back to the peasants. However, I suspect their initial statements are just grandstanding politics. This is, after all, the same FCC that auctions off the airwaves to the highest bidder.