April Fools’ – Netflix Throttling is way outside of FCC’s jurisdiction and there’s the rub
In what must be the most glaring admission by the FCC of their inability to treat the Internet as “open” or “neutral”, FCC chairman admits he is powerless to investigate Netflix Throttling even if it wanted to. Netflix admitted last week that it has been throttling customer traffic for years (here) while naming and shaming operators for their download speeds (here).
Wheeler said Netflix’s conduct was “outside” the FCC’s net neutrality rules adopted last year, because the FCC is not regulating “edge providers” or websites. Asked if the FCC had authority to investigate, Wheeler said that this “is outside the open Internet” order by the Federal Communications Commission. Wheeler was asked if Netflix actions were pro-consumer, but he declined to venture an opinion.
This underscores what we have been saying all along, you cannot put shackles on a sector of the Internet ecosystem. The FCC and the Obama administration have long held the view that it is the operators, the access providers, that have to be monitored and policed. It’s a new world out there, governments need to wake up and take a good look at who they got into bed with. Do they really think that the likes of Google and Facebook are the good guys? The Netflix throttling saga should put that particular school of thought to the sword. There are no inherently worthy or virtuous companies in the Internet game, just as there no innately sinful ones – just companies trying to do right by their shareholders. You can’t discriminate when it comes to regulation.
Ken McEldowney, executive director at advocacy group Consumer Action, said Netflix actions “demonstrate a complete lack of transparency with customers, but the news is also confusing: Netflix settings have long allowed users to choose their own preferred balance of picture quality vs. data usage.”
India’s TRAI seems to have a much more even-handed approach when it comes to the definition of “Neutral” and “Open”. Trai wasn’t afraid to call out Facebook on its Free Basics Internet.org program (here & here) It would be interesting to hear TRAI’s reacting the Netflix Throttling admission.
If this isn’t a clear call to action, I don’t know what it. The FCC needs to cease and desist the operator witch hunt and widen its view of a neutral Internet. It must take in not only those “edge providers” but the whole ecosystem. Perhaps protecting Internet consumers requires new thinking altogether?
More Here [Reuters]