Thursday, January 16, 2014

Door Closes to Open Internet, But All May Not Be Lost

Michael Winship
Common Dreams
 
In the words of Howard Beale, the Mad Prophet of the Airwaves in the movie Network, “Woe is us! We’re in a lot of trouble!” And, as Beale would shout, we should be mad as hell.
(Image: FreePress.net)

Issuing a decision that triggered dismay and anger among supporters of an Internet open and free to all, a federal appeals court on Tuesday overruled the Federal Communications Commission and set the stage for a near future in which such service providers as Verizon and AT&T could give preferential treatment to websites willing to pay a higher price for access and speed.

The ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is a potentially lethal blow to net neutrality – the principle that the Internet should be available equally to anyone who wishes to use it as a medium for creativity and information, regardless of who they are and no matter the size of their checkbooks.
The court ruled in a lawsuit filed by Verizon that “the FCC cannot subject companies that provide Internet service to the same type of regulation that the agency imposes on phone companies,” The New York Times reported. “It cited the FCC’s own decision in 2002 that Internet service was not a telecommunications service – like telephone or telegraph – but an information service, a classification that limits the FCC’s authority.”

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