Following up on a previous proposal from the Chairman, the FCC has passed rules to support Net Neutrality.
The new rules classify the internet as a utility, preventing service providers from discriminating based on certain types of content. More precisely, all legal content must be treated equally. That means that ISPs cannot create internet fast lanes as they have previously discussed doing. Comcast’s practice of charging Netflix more to stream their content will no longer be allowed, for example.
This seems to be good news of those who support a free internet. And it’s especially good news for those individuals who get most of their film and TV viewing in on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.
However, the battle is likely far from over. While there is opposition within political ranks, stating that this represents another expansion of government control, the action is likely to come from a different source. Chances are better than not that internet service providers will fight back and take this into court, which will likely lead to a long, drawn-out battle over the issue.
Even if the new regulations stand, there seem to be some questions about how the rules will be put into practice, as there are often unintended consequences in the real world. For example, what constitutes “legal content”? Will this create a loophole that provides ISPs the ability to censor or throttle content?
There aren’t many answers at this point. It’s more of a wait-and-see situation. However, it seems that fans of streaming content have won a battle (for now) thanks to the FCC.