Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Why you should care about net neutrality

Imagine that your Internet service provider hampered your access to legal websites or blocked them altogether — for profit or for no reason at all. Say, for instance, that your broadband provider disabled Google because another search engine paid for exclusive rights. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has made this world possible by limiting the Federal Communications Commission's authority to keep the Internet open for unfettered exchange of information. A ruling last week says the Internet is not a utility under federal law, so the FCC can't enforce the important principle of "net neutrality."

Now it is up to the FCC with a possible assist from Congress to answer back. The agency should redefine broadband providers as what they are — utilities that provide a pipeline for information — and bar them from picking winners and losers in the free flow of information. If the courts decide the FCC doesn't have that power, then Congress should act.

Net neutrality is a simple concept. Broadband providers should treat all legal information on the Web equally. The ISP owns the pipeline, but it should not pick favorites and control what flows through it.

Verizon had challenged the FCC's 2010 Open Internet Order, which codified net neutrality. Although the court seems to value net neutrality, it sided with Verizon, largely because the FCC classified broadband years ago as an "information service," which can't be so tightly regulated, rather than as a telecommunications service, which is subject to closer oversight. Broadband providers who have spent billions building their high-speed networks have argued that they have the right to manage them as they see fit. Verizon says it believes in net neutrality, but it is now under no legal obligation to honor it.

In reality, most Internet providers face little competition, though many residents of the Tampa Bay area are lucky to have a choice. Without competition, Internet users have to accept the terms their provider offers. If a provider lets Hulu or Amazon Prime pay for faster or even exclusive movie service, you would be out of luck if you wanted to watch Netflix. Or what if a broadband provider denied access to a political site it just didn't like?

Remember MySpace? What if it had cut a deal with broadband providers to be the exclusive social network when Facebook was just starting up? It would be a very different world today. Giving companies with deep pockets the ability to game the system for their own benefit is bad policy and would let them squeeze both consumers and small, innovative startups.

The stakes are high, because the Internet is the main conduit for information in today's high-tech world. But it's really quite simple: Broadband providers should control only the pipeline. It should be up to consumers to decide what flows through it.

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Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Airís safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administrationís reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrierís high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Womenís work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castroís handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Natureís Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Natureís Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Natureís Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. ē The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18