Net Neutrality Returns


At the end of 2010, the Federal Communications Commission passed so-called "net neutrality" rules giving the FCC new power to regulate traffic management practices on data networks. Those rules are currently being challenged by Verizon, which argues that the rules violate the First Amendment and lack sufficient statutory basis. A court is expected to rule on the matter next year.

In the meantime, though, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden is proposing new legislation that would enforce certain traffic management rules. Via Wired:

A proposal forbidding internet service providers from turning the data-cap meter off to grant a so-called internet fast lane to preferential online services was introduced Thursday in the Senate.

The bill by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) comes a week after a report found that the institutionalization of data caps by ISPs is geared toward profiteering rather than the stated goal of managing traffic congestion.

"A covered internet service provider may not, for purposes of measuring data usage or otherwise, provide preferential treatment of data that is based on the source or the content of the data," Wyden's bill reads.

Ars Technica noted that Comcast had not counted its Xbox video-streaming app against its data caps. Comcast, however, no longer enforces its data caps.

"Data caps create challenges for consumers and run the risk of undermining innovation in the digital economy if they are imposed bluntly and not designed to truly manage network congestion," Wyden said in a statement.

Among other things, the proposal demands a standardized method for measuring data and also questions data caps altogether. That's because it grants the Federal Communications Commission with regulatory power over data-cap pricing.

So a report has suggested that Internet service providers are, or at least were, arranging their business and pricing practices in a way that allows them to maximize their profits? It is surprising that anyone was able to uncover evidence to this effect. And obviously it must not be allowed to happen again.