The FCC's Net neutrality plan is much worse than it looks

Under the new proposal, ISPs will be slower to upgrade their networks and will find it easier to exploit customers on both ends

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The big ISPs have been built on the backs of the taxpayers and on the backs of their own customers through the fraud-laden Universal Service Fund, selling the content of others for decades. Now they are trying to further consolidate and bring us back to the time when owning a phone was illegal.

Think about that for a second. Only a few decades ago, it was illegal to own a phone or an answering machine. Now, we rent cable boxes and cable modems. Does that sound at all familiar? Why is there a differentiation between these two practices?

Functionally, logically, there is none to be found. And further down the illogical trail, AT&T is buying DirectTV, while Comcast is buying Time Warner. (NB: I really can't believe that these deals are progressing or were ever seriously believed to escape the anti-competition laws. Am I taking crazy pills?)

Ma Bell fought its dissolution hard, claiming all kinds of mayhem would ensue. Instead, the world embarked on the most significant communications development of all time in the spread of the Internet. The MPAA's Jack Valenti famously compared the VCR to the Boston Strangler, yet the movie industry has made untold billions on home movie rentals.

Uproariously hyperbolic claims by industry are nothing new. What is new is the medium. We are not talking about the telephone here or the VCR. This is not passive entertainment -- this is interactive. We are fighting against the tyranny of those who would try to pinch off the Internet and serve us the ideas, works, and content developed by others, piecemeal, a la carte, and at exorbitant prices, all built on networks we are already paying for.

We look back at the robber barons of the early 20th century as mythical creatures that could only exist in those heady days of light regulation, the slow spread of information, and political payola. How far we've come technologically, but how little we seem to have progressed otherwise.

This is a threat that will not disappear quickly or easily. We need to remain vigilant -- and in active discussion of the FCC's proposed rules -- for the remainder of the public commentary period. We have until September to save the Internet as we know it. I truly wish that statement was hyperbolic, but I fear that it is not.

This story, "The FCC's Net neutrality plan is much worse than it looks," was originally published at Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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