FCC Votes To Advance New Net Neutrality Rules Including “Fast Lane”

More or less as expected, the FCC voted to advance the new net neutrality rules that would allow ISPs to charge certain web companies more for “fast lanes” for content. It’s a decision that net neutrality advocates are unhappy with because they see it as an unhealthy compromise, while net neutrality opponents are annoyed at the open provisions these rules leave open.

The vote went 3-2 along party lines, with FCC chairman Tom Wheeler apparently doing enough to convince the other two democrats on the committee to vote along with him.

Tom Wheeler
Tom Wheeler

This is by no means the end of political wrangling, though. This vote opens up four months of commentary and reviews, a subsequent second vote, and then later this year an official ruling will be made.

Although Wheeler is seen as comprising far too much to the other side of net neutrality, he painted himself as an advocate. “I will not allow the national asset of an open Internet to be compromised,” he told Bloomberg. He further seemed optimistically firm that the Internet will remain open--just with certain rules.

A fast lane, or any similar option, allows ISPs to be the gatekeepers of Internet access. Anyone who’s ever dealt with an ISP (that would be essentially everyone reading these words) knows that those are generally not the guys you want holding the keys to the kingdom.

It seems that what Wheeler is proposing could only ever possibly work if the FCC acts as an effective police force, carefully and severely limiting ISP abuses on a case-by-case basis. That’s a big leap of trust that doesn’t seem to be sitting well with the general population of Internet users.