All Data Packets Are Equal—Some More than Others
Courtesy MIT Technology Review
Neutral party: Julius Genachowski, then-chairman of the FCC, speaks during a hearing on net neutrality in Washington, D.C., in 2010.
This fall, Verizon will try to persuade a federal judge to throw out U.S. Federal Communications Commission regulations requiring “net neutrality”—the idea that all content and applications must get similar treatment on wired and wireless networks.
But even beyond the court fight, the concept is under a diffuse and broad assault. Experts warn that the end of net neutrality would mean that deep-pocketed content providers could squeeze others out.
Net neutrality is being eroded on several fronts. New content deals and services are increasingly pushing against the concept. And a crop of emerging wireless routing technologies—ones that prioritize data in sophisticated ways—are challenging the concept that all data packets are equal.
So in some ways, the regulations are already being skirted. “There are some apparent loopholes that can be exploited, and the providers are exploiting them,” says John Bergmayer, a staff attorney with Public Knowledge, an open-Internet group in Washington, D.C. “The arguments get complex because what they are doing is more subtle.”