The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday approved new regulations for internet traffic, a move that could have profound consequences for the future of online access. In a partisan vote, the 3-2 Democratic majority on the FCC's board, led by Chairman Julius Genachowski, enacted the Open Internet Order promoting "network neutrality," the idea that broadband providers should treat large and small sites the same. But the new regulations provoked immediate criticism from all sides, with Republicans calling it harmful government meddling and liberals saying the rules are "meaningless" and, in fact, open the door to preferential treatment for big corporations. Will the FCC's new rules change the internet?
This will create separate internets for the rich and poor: The new rules only make a nod to real net neutrality, says Dan Lyons in The Daily Beast, by saying that wired connections like those from cable broadband providers must be available to all at the same speed. But wireless carriers, which are increasingly important internet gatekeepers in the age of mobile devices, "remain free to create 'fast lanes'" for those who can pay, so "we are entering an age in which we will have two Internets" — the fast, awesome one for those with money, and "MuggleNet, which is free but slow and crappy."
"The internet splits in two"
The FCC is slowing down the web for everyone: What "jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah," says Robert M. McDowell in The Wall Street Journal. The internet wasn't "broken," but the FCC's attempt to "fix" it will send a chill across the web, and "have the perverse effect of inhibiting capital investment, deterring innovation, raising operating costs, and ultimately increasing consumer prices." And once these rules are in place, more will surely follow, making this a dark day for "internet freedom" indeed.
"The FCC's threat to internet freedom"
This is not the final word: "Net neutrality may have passed," says Sarah Kessler in Mashable, "but its fate is anything but decided." The courts may have to weigh in, as they did in April when appeals judges ruled "the FCC could not stop Comcast from controlling user traffic in instances of peer-to-peer downloading." And, according to Politico, less than an hour after the FCC approved the Open Internet Order "the Republican party started planning its repeal." So stay tuned.
"FCC's net neutrality order finally passes, many disappointed"