The spotlight on net neutrality has intensified since Google and Verizon released their “Legislative Framework Proposal” on the matter. For those unfamiliar with the net neutrality debate, proponents of complete net neutrality maintain that the Web should be completely open and that Internet service providers (ISPs) and governments should not have control over the types of content accessible on their networks. In other words, under complete net neutrality, an ISP couldn’t discriminate against a site for any reason and block its users’ access to that site.
At first blush, the Google and Verizon policy seems to be in favor of “preserving the open Internet,” as the proposal says, with principals that prevent discrimination and promote transparency. For example, Google and Verizon believe that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should prohibit ISPs from discriminating against any Internet traffic or content.
So what has everyone up in arms? Google and Verizon propose that nearly every rule set forth for ISPs – including the anti-discrimination policy – shouldn’t apply to wireless carriers. In other words, wireless carriers should be able to control the content and traffic of their wireless networks as they see fit, because of the “unique technical and operational characteristics of wireless networks.”
This could have huge ramifications, especially as the rate of wireless Internet continues to grow exponentially. Allowing wireless providers to control the content on their networks would essentially privatize those iterations of the Web.
This policy proposal is just that – a proposal. There is no indication that the FCC plans to adopt the plan. In fact, all evidence to the contrary: The FCC released a statement that said it believed the policy was riddled with problems.
Still, the idea that large corporations with vested interests in mobile Internet technology could be granted almost complete control over the Web content we have access to on their mobile devices is a scary one. What are your thoughts on the net neutrality debate? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section.