Commentators have taken to the pages of Slate and elsewhere to decry proposed FCC rules that would authorize discrimination by cable and phone companies. The rules would take effect for service over the “last mile”—the part of the infrastructure that’s in your neighborhood and leads directly to your door—allowing your retail Internet service provider to decide which sites load slower or faster for you, based on how much money content providers can pay.
This is bad when you think about how few companies would be making those decisions, due to massive consolidation in the industry (just think Comcast-Time Warner-NBC-Universal). And it’s even worse when you think about the implications for a free press, or for a democracy writ large. But I for one am hoping that the proposed rules might mean the beginning of a new way of thinking about the Internet.