FCC wants to reclassify Internet services
Last week brought some good news for pro-net neutrality activists like myself, as the FCC revealed that they plan to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This is important because common carriers are not allowed to discriminate between potential customers. As long as they have the capacity to transmit data and customers pay a reasonable fee, they are required to provide their services equally to everyone. It would also allow the FCC to regulate and set rules for these carriers. ISPs had originally been classified under Title I of the Act, which meant that they were unregulated.
The FCC hasn’t released a ton of information regarding what rules they might set for ISPs once they are reclassified, but the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) says that the few statements they have made concentrate on three main rules:
- “No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
- No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
- No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration – in other words, no “fast lanes” – including fast lanes for affiliates.”
In my opinion, these are three very good rules. They go a long way toward preserving the Internet’s free and open spirit, and largely avoid the nightmare scenario I portrayed in my previous post on this topic, where a user only has access to certain websites or services depending on which ISP they use and what affiliation agreements they have signed. The EFF’s post suggests the FCC should also adopt a rule regarding transparency, so that consumers have the power to hold companies accountable for providing the services they have promised, which I think might also be a good idea. Jonathan Strickland gave a great summary of the implications of this decision in his TechStuff podcast on HowStuffWorks.com as well, so I’d encourage you to check that out if you want more information. The podcast is available on iTunes.
Kennesaw city council reconsiders mosque rejection
Although this is old news by now, I still wanted to follow up on this story for interested parties. The city council of Kennesaw, GA reversed its decision in December denying a request for a temporary mosque to be built in a shopping center on Jiles Road. Amid weak justification for its initial denial of the mosque, the US Justice Department had threatened to investigate and possibly file a lawsuit against the city if it believed the Muslim group’s First Amendment rights had been violated. Anyone investigating this issue for two seconds could see that such violations were indeed occurring, and I’m glad the city council has decided to allow the mosque after all.
Virginia basketball having sensational season
In case you missed it, last year was a historic year for Virginia men’s basketball. The team won the second ACC tournament title and the sixth ACC regular season title in history, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995. Only a razor-thin loss to Michigan State prevented the Cavaliers from soaring to greater heights.
This season, though, Virginia’s team might just be better. Always stalwart on defense, this year’s Cavaliers also ranked in the top 10 in offensive efficiency as well, lifting the team to a superb 23-1 (11-1 ACC) start. Better yet, these Hoos don’t just rely on one or two star players. Every game is a true team effort, with players such as Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill, Mike Tobey, and London Perrantes all making key contributions. Even freshman Marial Shayok has gotten in on the action and chipped in good minutes. All these factors have caused many pundits to declare Virginia capable of winning the national championship.
Though there have been chinks in the Cavaliers’ armor of late. Guard Justin Anderson, thought of by many as Virginia’s best player, went down with broken fingers in the team’s win over Louisville. Immediately before and since his injury, the team has had trouble closing out games, and has struggled offensively. The still-stifling defense has bailed out Virginia and enabled them to keep winning, but they will need Anderson back in order to have a good shot at making their first Final Four since 1984.