Net neutrality has been an industry buzzword for awhile now, but it wasn’t until President Obama’s statement this week that it, along with “The Open Internet” became mediaspeak. Net neutrality is a contentious policy that restricts the way in which WSPs and ISPs can deliver digital data to their customers. Net neutrality proponents believe that digital information is a public good, and that content should not be blocked or promoted for commercials reasons. They are against data throttling, which allots a faster connection to some customers based on the type of data package they have (and other criteria that is not always transparent). Open Internet advocates are most strongly against the concept of “Sponsored Data,” a strategy that drives website traffic to businesses who pay a fee to the WSP/ ISP – as opposed to presenting content based on an organic user-driven traffic algorithm.
Interestingly, democratically-appointed FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, diverged from the President’s views this yesterday, appearing to compromise net neutrality principles with multi-billion dollar corporations profit goals (eg: Comcast and AT&T), which are understandably against regulation.
Nearly four million public comments have been submitted to the FCC regarding the principle of Net Neutrality, with the vast majority of public feedback in favor of keeping the Internet Open, organic and driven by information, rather than corporate greed.
It will be interesting to see how the FCC responds to both President Obama’s plan and the public voice.