Last week the Wall Street Journal broke a story that sparked all sorts of anger and consternation on talk radio, newspaper editorial pages, blogs, and online magazine sites like this one. After years of trying to forge rules that would ensure that Internet service providers — cable companies, mostly — treat all data traffic equally, the Federal Communication Commission surrendered.
Rules proposed by former cable executive and current FCC Chair Tom Wheeler would create a “fast lane” through which high quality, high-density data from popular and wealthy sources like YouTube, Amazon, Apple, and Netflix would ride. The rest of the content that you seek — blogs, recipes, pornography, and photos of cats — would creep through the old “slow lane.” That “slow lane” is what we currently call “The Internet.” Wheeler’s proposal would guarantee what the FCC calls “non-discrimination” and “non-blocking” (i.e. network neutrality) within each of these lanes of the Internet. But that’s trivial in the long run.
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