The Federal Communications Commission has opened the floor on Chairman Tom Wheeler’s controversial new draft of net neutrality laws, asking the general public whether the commission should move forward with a proposal that would attempt to protect open Internet while also allowing Internet service providers to manage traffic on “commercially reasonable” terms, something open Internet advocates believe will cause the entire premise of a free Internet to crumble.
The FCC released a notice of proposed rule making on Thursday, asking for input from any and all individuals over the next four months as to how it should proceed. Net neutrality has been a hot-button issue since the laws were overruled by a D.C. district court in January. Consumer advocates, the FCC, and tech companies big and small are outraged over the idea that companies with deeper pockets will have access to better Internet connections, while startups will be relegated to slower speeds. Internet service providers are really the only ones happy about the prospect of an unregulated Internet. Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has already begun charging Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) for the large amount of bandwidth the popular TV streaming service uses.
“The FCC has previously concluded that broadband providers have the incentive and ability to act in ways that threaten Internet openness. But today, there are no rules that stop broadband providers from trying to limit Internet openness. That is why the notice adopted by the FCC today starts with the fundamental question: ‘What is the right public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open?’” the FCC’s statement reads.