In the U.S., we continue to squabble over whether Net Neutrality and increasing web speeds are the direction we want our internet to go. The alternative is, of course, that the existing infrastructure and laws are sufficient or even too forceful. Those are, of course, lies perpetuated by the established industry to protect their monopolies and encourage a more homogenized internet. In Europe, they’re pushing right past the misconceptions and doing exactly what we can’t seem to get done in the United States: voting to pass strong Net Neutrality laws.
European Parliament voted for a new law that does a great deal to protect the neutrality of the internet and prevent providers from playing favorites or discriminate between traffic. The law specifically states that all traffic on the internet must be handled, “without discrimination, restriction or interference, independent of the sender, receiver, type, content, device, service or application.”
In the U.S., we have no such law. In fact, recent developments in case law have been giving more and more authority to the local ISPs in determining how they want to deliver content and what content they would like to transfer. Most recently, Netflix has felt the sting of these decisions and has had to start paying Comcast to have its content guaranteed unfettered delivery to users.
We aren’t likely to see meaningful movement on the issue of Net Neutrality in the United States anytime soon, however. Comcast and other ISPs have been lobbying hard to keep us from making changes to protect the open internet and it is well known that they will continue those efforts.
The best hope that we have in the U.S. is for the FCC to change the classification of ISPs and make them utilities. But as the FCC is currently chaired by Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the telecom industry, it’s unlikely that this will happen.
Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow him on Twitter @Joshual33.