Which is why I've been specifying ISPs, Foxbunny.
But let me spell out how this could work, and likely will given the quality of our political establishment these days. There's an "impact on free expression" piece to the "general conduct" rules. Now normally, we'd go "Ahah! Freedom of expression is protected!", but the reality is very different.
Case in point are US universities, which are suppose to be havens for discourse and debate but some have taken up the practice of designating small, out of the way 'free speech zones' for the discourse and debate that they feel will make some students uncomfortable. Some others have made blanket 'hate speech' rules where certain opinions aren't considered 'free speech' and excluded from the classrooms and such. So what we have here is 'freedom of expression' in theory, in lipservice, because it only applies when it's convenient to the people in power. If that's the approach our universities are starting to take, even public universities, how much do you think our Freedom of Expression is really going to mean in the near future?
The other problem is the 'yelling fire in a crowded theater' exemption to our right to the Freedom of Expression. If there is no fire, you're breaking the law, as doing so can cause injury and such. It's an exemption based on public safety, and it's an exemption that some are trying to turn into an exemption for what they consider 'hate speech'.
And since ISPs are and will continued to be allowed to filter out bot and criminal traffic (as far as I know), it's a very small step for the US government regulators to have them filter out 'terrorist websites' and then it will be a small step for them to filter out 'hate websites' both of which will sometimes have the funny habit of resembling the websites of political opponents at some point in the future. It's not suppose to happen that way, but our political class won't be able to help themselves. See the IRS scandal of recent years.
Which is another part of the problem. This general conduct rule may work in the hands of the right people, but in the hands of government underlings, there will be people who twist and abuse it to their own ends. For the most part, over time, they'll get away with it too. See 'activist judges'.
So once the FCC creates the capability to regulate how the ISPs regulate content, these things will happen at some point in the future, mark my words. The short version of the because is that it's already happened in other government entities. If the IRS scandal wasn't enough, you can check out what the EPA has been up to. If that isn't enough, check out the time the FCC itself tried to place government monitors in news rooms for 'research'.
Now let me answer a part of the reason internet in the US is lagging behind parts of the developed world.
First of all, the US has had to go through pretty much all the growing pains, from Dialup to DSL to Cable to Satellite to Cellular to the future. That's a lot of investment in temporary tech.
Secondly, the US is a massive chunk of land with a very dispersed population. It's easy for nations like Japan and Taiwan to put in the latest and greatest when they're the size of Texas (at worst), have very dense population centers, and have a very tech-centric culture, as opposed to, say, the situation in the actual Texas, nevermind the whole of the US. The infrastructure investment in the places the US is often compared to was very small with a much greater return than what the US has to deal with, so it's not a valid comparison.
Thirdly, let's go back to that FCC piece. Isn't it ironic that the ISPs are taking over the phone business with their digital offerings as opposed to the established phone companies taking over the internet business? I submit that a good part of that is that 'ISPs' wren't regulated nearly as hard as the established phone companies.
Fourthly, Cell Phones have not 'flourished' under FCC rules. I have Sprint, and the service has this funny habit of bouncing me around towers and kicking me off for mild to moderate data usage, even in areas with 'decent' coverage and 4G capabilities. Most areas are spotty, even when they shouldn't be, and cities the size of Albuquerque still have very limited 4G coverage. It's also far too expensive for what I'm paying for. The only reason cellular services have 'flourished' is because the tech is so useful that the US puts up with the crap, expensive services we have in the states. The reality is that those services are incredibly behind the demand curve for what we do with them and what we want to do with them. I have more faith in and better experiences with cable providers than cellular providers, which is about as big an insult as can be given to a service provider in the US. And given the trends with crap service and government involvement, the government involvement is probably a big part of the 'crap' there.
What should have happened instead of the FCC regulatory takeover thing is a simple, straightforward law that prohibits ISPs from charging content providers for priority access, prohibits ISPs from artificially throttling down transfer speeds for legal content providers, and prohibits ISPs from charging special rates for certain kinds of content.
What we got was 300+ pages of mystery that will let naive (at best) politicians dictate the future of the internet in the US.
The flip side of the coin is what this situation suggests about our ISPs, that maybe one of the big reasons this is even an issue is because the internet's infrastructure in the US is struggling with the demands that video streaming is placing on it. Which goes back to the expense of covering a piece of land the size of the US with the latest, or even somewhat latest, bit of ISP tech. The money has to come from somewhere.
And speaking of monopolies. A healthy capitalistic system would have enough competition that an ISP would never get away with breaking the net neutrality concept. People would flock to the competition in protest, and the government wouldn't have to do anything about it. The situation in the US with ISPs (along with a few other sectors that could be mentioned), is not the picture of a healthy capitalistic system. Not even a little bit. I'm sure someone in the know could go to great lengths on why that is, but that person isn't me.
Which is also to say, the government did have to step in a little bit here. But to reiterate, the problem is that instead of stepping in a little bit, the government decided to jump in all the way and go full on, big brother mode with all the horrors that entails.
Edited by Rythe, 28 February 2015 - 08:09 PM.