June 15, 2016
The battle for net neutrality has been a war for the ages. With this generation’s most prized possession on the line, corporations continue to insist that monetizing internet “fast lanes” for prioritized use is the best future for the technology. But the Federal Communications Commission, and everyone else, wants the internet to remain as free as the wild west once was. And yesterday, they took another step in that direction.
That’s right, a federal appeals court ruled that internet service providers can now be reclassified as common carriers by the FCC, meaning they will be regulated in the same way as utilities like water and electricity are regulated. The major takeaway from this ruling is that net neutrality can more effectively be implemented, preventing companies from creating these paid prioritization initiatives brought up by AT&T.
“After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the Commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections – both on fixed and mobile networks – that will ensure the Internet remains open, now and in the future,” said Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC in a statement released this yesterday.
Unfortunately, this does not spell the end of the battle for net neutrality. With the implications of this case reaching far beyond one company’s desire to make a little bit more money, the Supreme Court is the only place a battle like this can end. And that’s what AT&T is planning for.
“We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and we look forward to participating in that appeal,” said David McAtee, senior executive vice president and general counsel for AT&T in a statement.
While the importance of this case is far from understated, millennials and less-informed adults are not taking this issue as seriously as they should. Yes, plenty of news sources have covered this story. But if the battle for net neutrality goes the way of corporations, the last free frontier could end up as a slow, overly organized landscape of unfairness and greed.
Many do argue that the internet fast lanes in question would help provide necessary download speeds for hospital plans and other important internet actions. But the line is thin between social good and personal gain. And let’s be honest, when was the last time anything this complicated and lucrative wasn’t used inappropriately to fulfill someone’s selfish desires?
Photo: Flickr / Joseph Gruber
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