Sunday, February 05, 2023

RESPONSE: Net neutrality needs action

| April 23, 2010 10:00 PM

 I was glad to see Sholeh Patrick’s article on the recent appeals court decision involving the power of the FCC to regulate Comcast, and other internet portals. Comcast’s original argument with the FCC had to do with high volume users. The ruling seems to have much broader implications. Apparently Judge David Tatel stated in his opinion that the FCC lacks “any statutorily mandated responsibility” to enforce network neutrality rules.

 When I read this ruling I immediately called both senators and Congressman Minnick’s office asking them to introduce/support legislation to force internet providers to remain net neutral. As I expected I had to patiently explain the term to their staffs. I pointed out the dangers of an internet provider entering into a business dealing with one retailer to the detriment of others. I pointed out the problems with an internet provider having an interest in a news outlet and delaying response time to competing news outlets.

 I was met with the usual comments about business being allowed to do what they want and tough luck for the consumer (I pointed out that I really have only one option, Time/Warner Cable...I’ve done satellite and it’s not as good and it’s a lot more expensive).

 However I struck a nerve when I pointed out the political implications. When I suggested that their employer might lose an election because the internet providers might suppress their websites or the websites of grass roots organizations they suddenly began to understand the concept of net neutrality. I asked them that if our legislators decide to guarantee equal access to politicians that they include us lowly consumers in the legislation.

 An interesting side discussion is that conservatives insist on no legislation from the bench, that the courts should respect the intent of Congress. However when Congress tries to enact legislation, to close loopholes, the conservatives start jumping up and down screaming about how laws are being passed to micromanage society and business.

 Thank you for pointing out this important ruling. However I have serious doubts that the average person is going to understand the potential pitfalls.


Hayden Lake

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