The News in Brief
The Federal Communications Commission ruled (3-2) last week in favor of “net neutrality” rules that may allow for internet service providers to charge a premium for data “fast lanes.” This would potentially allow them to improve their service speed for those web providers and customers with the deepest pockets while leaving the rest of us behind. The FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, has denied that this is the intention, but the passed regulations do not specifically ban these so-called “fast lanes” so it is safe to assume that internet service providers will take advantage of this option as a means to increase revenue.
Opponents are calling this type of “pay for priority” system dangerous. They feel that by dividing the internet into the fast and the slow the “rest of us” will be relegated to the slow lane and the providers will have no real incentive to increase that speed. This could have a significant impact on smaller websites (like ours) that don’t have the deep pockets necessary to deliver content at the higher speed.
Why Should Parents Care?
We are ushering our children into a digital age. Their interactions with school, each other, and the rest of the world are becoming more and more dependent on their internet connection. Any potential restrictions on internet usage will have a significant impact on them. Many of the potential outcomes of these rulings might not come into play for years which will make adapting to these changes more difficult for them as they develop habits as children. Frankly, even if there are no real restrictions the potential increase in costs for web based services are something to worry about.
These types of potential restrictions could also put a stranglehold on innovation across the internet. Think about all of the web services that you use right now: Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, etc. These sorts of services have come to dominate our lives, but these new rules run the risk of strangling these types of innovations in the face of bigger spending from existing competition.
To their credit the FCC has left the rules open for comment for the next 120 days. This gives each of us the chance to do just that. The Electronic Freedom Foundation has set up a website called DearFCC.org where you can complete their form and submit it.
Head on over to their site and then share this with other parents who might need some “encouragement!”