Corporate Internet Providers Threaten Net Neutrality

by Vins

In September of 2013, the federal appeals court of Washington D.C. began a crucial case brought by Verizon Communications Inc., challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) authority to regulate Internet service providers. Under the FCC’s current Open Internet Order, service providers such as Verizon, cannot charge varying prices or give priority to users that access certain websites or may be able to pay more for faster speeds compared to competitors. Verizon claims the FCC violates their first amendment right and they should have the ability to manage and promote the content they see fit. The Federal Communications Commission has continually ruled that controlling communications is not in the best interest of the public. If the court decides in favor of Verizon and revokes the Open Internet Order, the FCC will have no way to regulate unbiased data access, changing the future for everyday internet users in the 21st century.

Cole Stangler, a reporter for In These Times Magazine describes in his article “Your Internets in Danger”, that many open Internet advocates fear that service providers, “could ultimately enable the construction of a multi-tiered Internet landscape resembling something like cable television—where wealthy conglomerates have access to a mass consumer base and other providers, such as independent media, struggle to reach an audience” (2013). Today the Internet is a critical medium for public communication. Grassroots policy director at the Center for Media Justice, Amalia Deloney, points out that corporate oversight would pose a threat to public discourse and organizing efforts. The consequent trepidation seems to be that service providers could make specific websites impossibly slow to load, successfully regulating communication among would-be activists. It seems Internet service providers would do more to limit free speech than advocate for it.

Verizon v FCC has been well covered by both corporate and independent media. Corporate magazines and websites such as, the New York Times, 24/7 Wall St. and Forbes Magazine place importance on the business and corporate aspects of the case, skimming over vital particulars affecting the public and Internet’s future. Independent sources, such as In These Times Magazine and Free Press Network create transparency with descriptive yet digestible information that allows for individuals to understand the impact and importance of this case.

Sources:

Paul Ausick,  “Verizon Goes After FCC in Court Monday”. 24/7 Wall St. September 9, 2013. http://247wallst.com/telecom-wireless/2013/09/09/verizon-goes-after-fcc-in-court-monday/

Joshua Brustein,  “Net Neutrality Goes on Trial: A Guide to Verizon v. FCC”. Bloomberg Buisnessweek. September 9, 2013. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-09-09/net-neutrality-goes-on-trial-a-guide-to-verizon-v-dot-fcc#p2

Cole Stangler,  “Your Internet’s in Danger”. In These Times. October 2, 2013. http://inthesetimes.com/article/15689/your_internets_in_danger/

Bret Swanson,  “Why Broadband Consumers Are The Likely Winners In Verizon v. FCC”. September 25, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/bretswanson/2013/09/25/why-broadband-consumers-are-the-likely-winners-in-verizon-v-fcc/

Edward Wyatt, “Verizon-F.C.C. Court Fight Takes On Regulating Net”. September 8, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/09/business/verizon-and-fcc-net-neutrality-battle-set-in-district-court.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Jennifer Yeh, “Legal Gymnastics Ensue in Oral Arguments for Verizon vs. FCC”. September 10, 2013. http://www.freepress.net/blog/2013/09/10/legal-gymnastics-ensue-oral-arguments-verizon-vs-fcc

Student Researcher: Petra Dillman (College of Marin)

Faculty Evaluator Susan Rahman (College of Marin)