By Anne Collier
The US Federal Communications Commission has voted 3-2 to support its chairman’s “Net neutrality” plan for keeping Internet providers from blocking or otherwise interfering with legal content running through their “pipes,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The plan had its critics (the vote split along party lines with the 2 Republican commissioners voting against and the 3 Democratic ones voting for, the Boston Globe reports), however my ConnectSafely co-director Larry Magid wrote in the San Jose Mercury News that, the vote “is neither a government takeover of the Internet nor a complete sell-out to the telecommunications industry. Like President Barack Obama who appointed him, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is a pragmatist who fashioned a compromise that doesn’t go nearly as far as some would like but provided some protection for consumers and businesses against broadband providers.” What does all this have to do with the average householder? The Journal says “consumers haven’t had a problem viewing whatever they want online; few instances have arisen of an Internet provider blocking or slowing services. Rather, the FCC rules are designed to prevent potential future harms and they could shape how Americans access and use the Internet years from now. In the future, the Internet industry will be increasingly centered around the fastest-growing categories of Internet traffic—online video, gaming and mobile services, analysts say.” For interesting historical perspective, here’s Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s open letter to the FCC – “Keep the Internet Free” in The Atlantic.