The Usenet is abuzz with reports that the sky is falling and the end is near following the Google-Verizon proposal for “net neutrality”. For many though, Google and Verizon did the Usenet a huge favor by demonstrating exactly why net neutrality is necessary, and creating a backlash strong enough to drive Congress and the FCC to do the right thing.
Google and Verizon on Monday announced a set of rules they said would help enshrine net neutrality, a term that has different meanings but generally refers to a policy that would prevent internet service providers such as cable and phone companies from unfairly discriminating between types of traffic in the United States, including ports used to access Usenet newsgroups.
The proposal from Google and Verizon included the prohibition of unfair traffic discrimination and the granting of powers to the Federal Communications Commission to impose penalties of up to $2 million for violations. The proposal also would require telecommunications service providers to be transparent in how they manage their networks.
Comcast drew first blood in the net neutrality battle by violating the principles of the Broadband Policy Statement established by the FCC in 2007. Intentionally choking peer-to-peer networking traffic, and giving other Internet traffic preferential treatment on the Comcast network drew attention to the cause and illustrated why the FCC should have stronger oversight to protect national and consumer interests.
The negative reactions appear to include the FCC, which is none too happy that the proposal itself was drafted outside of a delicate process with industry players. The agency is also unhappy with the proposal and the fact that it will likely move the discussion forward.
Google affirms that their proposed policy plan is guided by the principle that “users should choose what content, applications, or devices they use, since openness has been central to the explosive innovation that has made the Internet a transformative medium.” But will Google and Verizon’s proposed policy really maintain an open Web or will it mean the The End of the Internet as we know it? It’s too early to know but one thing is clear: Whether you like it or not, broadband carriers are moving quickly towards tiered pricing for the Internet.