On the heels of announcing that its long-term goals were to…well, to do what was already going to happen without their help, the FCC today had its favorite solution in search of a problem, Net Neutrality, taken away. Says the NYT:
A federal appeals court on Tuesday dealt a sharp blow to the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to set the rules of the road for the Internet, ruling that the agency lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks.
Here’s the issue, simplified: video and VOIP take more bandwidth than static websites. If you force the ISPs to use a dumb pipe, you’re restricting the growth of bandwidth-heavy resources (who wants to watch a choppy video or use a spotty VOIP service?) By allowing the ISPs to manage the flow, you’re not inviting the industry to censor, you’re allowing them to make the best use of their resources.
The NYT article continues:
Members of Congress have expressed concern that the acquisition could give Comcast the power to favor the content of its own cable and broadcast channels over those of competitors, something that Comcast has said it does not intend to do. Now, members of Congress could also fret that Comcast will also block or slow down customers’ access to the Web sites of competing television and telecommunications companies.
And there’s the essence of the debate: the concern from members of Congress is over the ability for Comcast to harm their customers, not about any actual harm being done. There’s no fraud taking place, no theft, no damages…but there could be someday, which means we must act!
Or not. Maybe we could all just let a company and its customers enter into private agreements without inviting government into the middle of it?