Last week the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the “Federal Communication’s Open Internet Order.”
The “Open Internet Rules” did three things:
1. ISP’s have to be transparent about how they manage network congestion
2. They can’t block traffic on wired networks, no matter the source
3. They can’t put competing services into an “internet” slow lane to benefit their own interests.
In short, this order gave the FCC the power to treat the internet as a utility (i.e. water, electric), and in doing so provide what is called “net neutrality.”
Net neutrality is the idea that all data on the internet should be treated the same. No matter who is consuming it. No matter where it is coming from. No matter what device it is being consumed with. For example, your Internet Services Provider (ISP—ex. Charter), should treat your ability to consume a YouTube video the same as your ability to consume a Netflix show.
Here is why these rules being overturned could be a BIG deal.
Without net neutrality, ISP’s can treat the consumer differently. This, in itself, could be devastating.
A recent article at campustechnology.com, put it this way :
“”It’s not hard to imagine, for example, a commercial network that has Apple as a major sponsor and makes it harder to use an Android phone or vice-versa. Or, a network where the video for courses from the University of Phoenix or Coursera run quickly, but those from edX and your local community college run at slower speed and lower resolution.””
It’s difficult to say what will become of this. Many are arguing that the case actually gave the FCC more leverage in regulating ISP’s. It’s unlikely that ISP’s will enact any of these policies in the near future, as it would cause consumer unrest, but it’s in the realm of possibility that the internet that we’ve become accustomed to could be a thing of the past.