The true implications of the FCC's recent proposal recommending the dissolution of net neutrality are still unknown. Lifting current net neutrality rules would give ISPs the ability to pay more to access "faster" Internet channels, which would likely result in higher prices for content providers and ISP customers.
The first question we asked our tweet jam participants dealt specifically with Internet service providers (ISPs) and their customers:
SearchCompliance site editor Ben Cole commenced a chain of predictions, pointing out the negative impact the ruling could have on both content providers and customers:
A1 If carriers can charge content providers for priority placement/faster speeds, customers can def expect increased fees #GRCChat— Ben Cole (@BenjaminCole11) June 19, 2014
Fran Sales, associate site editor for SearchCompliance, was referring to Netflix's recent plea asking the FCC to intervene in its dealings with ISPs such as Verizon and Comcast. Netflix alleged the ISPs were intentionally letting their connection speeds deteriorate, forcing the company to pay a premium for better service.
Does this mean everyone -- ISPs, companies such as Netflix, and customers -- will be paying more for speedy services? Maybe so, but increased premiums aren't the only negatives. Cole and SearchCIO managing editor Rachel Lebeaux pointed out some potential constitutional violations in play:
Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, took this concept one step further. Net neutrality, he said, represents the idea that a "maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites and platforms equally." Wu uses the analogy of an electric grid to explain the neutrality theory: "The general purpose and neutral nature of the electric grid is one of the things that make it extremely useful. The electric grid does not care if you plug in a toaster, an iron or a computer. Consequently, it has survived and supported giant waves of innovation in the appliance market."
SearchCIO executive editor Linda Tucci shared a thought about Wu's philosophy plucked from a Forbes article by Katheryn Thayer:
On this particular topic, tweet jam participant Michael Elling had the last word:
Stay tuned for more recaps from our net neutrality-themed #GRCchat here on SearchCompliance. Our next tweet jam will take place on Thursday, July 24, at 12 p.m. EDT. Until then, browse this month's conversation and add your two cents.
Read more about the FCC net neutrality proposal in a recent Searchlight roundup and then in a column authored by Wellesley College CIO Ravi Ravishanker.