…and is that really a surprise?
As if we all didn’t see this coming. After throttling Netflix and other services in knowledge that the Supreme Court would rule in their favor, it was all but certain that internet service providers were going to institute a “fast lane” for certain distributors that would be willing to pay a fee. What was shocking (read: not shocking at all) was that the FCC would beat them to it and simply hand over the reins. This coming after a decade-long fight in which the FCC practically gutted itself in some Kurosawa-esque ritual of seppuku that mirrored Japan’s existential crisis on the economic world stage.
But calling it a battle is really kind of giving undue credit. The studios, the cable companies, and the providers certainly weren’t fighting a chance to make money from both ends of the spectrum, particularly not when they were already a vertical monopoly that was looking to gain even more power. The FCC was too busy fining producers for nipple slips. It’s former head is now the head lobbyist for the telecom industry. The current one worked in the cable industry for years; hell, he’s in the Cable Industry Hall of Fame.
This was a kabuki battle meant to slowly bleed what little independence was left on the internet. Here’s how that ten-year conversation basically went…
ISPs: We’re going to allow certain companies to go faster on the internet for a fee. And by that, we mean we’re going to allow them to go the regular speed while we throttle everybody else.
FCC: Not so fast. You’re a common carrier!
ISPs: Actually, remember? You changed that because the past three heads of your organization are either working for us now or have worked for us.
FCC: Oh. Right. So, yeah. Go for it.
So, what can you do about this?
- Get a VPN: Some virtual private networks are free. Some cost a little bit ($6 a month). All services provide you anonymity while searching the web. This means that it’s harder for ISPs to track (and thus throttle) your viewing habits.
- Call your Representative: Sure, I mean, if you don’t mind being ignored.
Otherwise, get ready to be bent over a barrel. The President, despite promises to the contrary, doesn’t care. If Congress wasn’t in the Industry’s pockets before, the latest Supreme Court rulings will allow them to practically bathe in money. The regulatory body that is supposed to watch out for us is actively undermining our interests (can you say “regulatory capture“?. And we’re too busy with Game of Thrones to actually care. About the only people we can count on are other content distributors who would have a dog in this fight. But so far, Netflix stands alone.