Kickstarter CEO and co-founder Yancey Strickler chimed in on the FCC ruling today that now classifies the internet as a public utility. Advocates of net neutrality celebrated the victory as many viewed it as guaranteeing open and equal access to the world wide web.
“A free Internet with equal access for all is vital to a diverse and vibrant culture of open exchange,” said Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler. “We’re grateful that the FCC has heard the millions of voices who believe in a free and open internet. Today’s step is a huge victory, however, we must remain diligent in protecting everyone’s rights as citizens of the web.”
Strickler has consistently been a vocal advocate for net neutrality believing that the Internet is a public utility and should be treated as one. He was not alone as most of Silicon Valley had rallied to the cause.
The decision was clearly not without controversy and much of the debate fell along party lines. Republicans feared for a digital domain controlled by government mandarins void of competition, excessively taxed and bereft of investment. The ISPs lined up against the ruling seeing a new method of revenue generation slipping from their grasp.
The debate has suffered from a painfully convoluted and arcane discussion. Both sides posited solid arguments that inevitably got bogged down in the minutia. The scribes at Gawker actually put together an excellent, and largely balanced, description of the debate explaining why it mattered and how. Gawker closed their review noting the debate is unlikely to end anytime soon.
The ubiquitous and ever eloquent Mark Cuban said Net Neutrality will “fuck everything up”.
Republicans proposed legislation on the internet that was actually pretty much in line with what net neutrality advocates wanted all along. Released last month, the bill would have banned blocking or slowing down downloads which was at the heart of the matter of net neutrality. In the end it was a day late and more than a dollar short. In recent days even the Republicans were giving up the fight recognizing the vote was going to take place and net neutrality would win.
“I Love My ISP” Said Nobody Ever
A huge part of the problem is that everyone hates their ISP. I cannot stand Time Warner Cable since they seem determined to provide shitty service at an excessive price all bundled up nicely with a bow of customer disservice. And there are no other alternatives as TWC has a monopoly in my neighborhood giving them free reign to laugh at my broadband torture. Meanwhile Lithuania zips along at 300MBS. Somehow, someway, the Republican leadership missed out on this fact and stubbed their collective political mojo on an issue they should have been in front of years ago. Hopefully this is not indicative of the type of leadership we can expect from the GOP going forward.
The Consumer Always Ends Up Paying
While the ISPs called foul because they will no longer be able to charge Netflix for clogging up the internet someone will have to pay. There is no free lunch and the ISPs having passed the buck on to large data consumers will now turn that fee to you and me. Charging consumers more for “better” service is an obvious next step. But they will do so with the FCC looking over their shoulders to a greater degree.
In the end what the internet really needs is a good dose of competition where firms compete for consumers business by providing a fair price for competitive (and superior) service. The present monopolistic environment has delivered neither for far too long.