“It’s really a question of how much power we’re going to give the Internet service providers to control our content.”
— Sherwin Siy, legal affairs vice president for Public Knowledge, on net neutrality, which once again will take its turn in the spotlight as Verizon and the Federal Communications Commission duke it out in federal court starting today. Verizon will argue that net neutrality — the principle that all traffic over the Internet should be treated equally — violates its First Amendment rights, and that the FCC is overstepping its authority over the United States’ No. 1 wireless provider. As we’ve written, net neutrality rules issued by the FCC in 2010, whose strength and scope pleased neither side, have already survived a 2011 attempt to wipe them out. But the challenge continues, and the decision in this current battle could have a big effect on the who, what, why, where and when of delivering content over the Internet. This is partly because the fight comes as competition grows among revenue-hungry publishers, broadcasters and others over how and where their content is delivered to consumers. For example, some tech companies, (new) such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft (end new), reportedly pay broadband providers extra so their users can access their Web services quickly and smoothly. And the pressure has been on Netflix to do the same; the Los Gatos entertainment provider, which streams TV shows and movies online, is known to be a bandwidth hog.
Photo from Mercury News archives