Net Neutrality and Australia

I’m fascinated by the way the Net Neutrality argument is playing out in the US.

The recent US Federal Appeals Court decision to strike down the FCC’s net neutrality rules has brought this topic, once again, to the forefront of attention.

For a really good primer on the topic you should check out this post –

What’s Net Neutrality? What Happened to Net Neutrality Yesterday? What Happens Next? A Q&A for the Rest of Us.

While there have been some interesting reactions amongst well-known Net Neutrality supporters in light of that decision my reading of it is that the decision was far more about the technicality of the FCC creating rules, as opposed to the content of those rules.

An analogy from Australia would be the recent High Court ruling that the ACT”s same-sex marriage laws were inconsistent with the Federal Marriage Act. This was not a “banning of gay marriage” but merely a ruling on the technicality of the law being created. In fact there was some awesome news out of that decision in that the High Court found that the Australian Constitution did not exclude the possibility of same sex marriages – just that the current legislation did.

Simple solution? Amend the Act. Likewise, the simple solution in the US appears to be to amend the legislation that deregulated the broadband industry and allow the FCC to regulate once again.

My understanding is that whatever decision the US legislators come up with won’t have a direct influence on us in Australia as it has to do with the US FCC and their:

a) legal authority to regulate high-speed internet access and services

b) desire, even if they do have that authority, to maintain free (as in speech) and open access to all content providers.

But you can imagine our Government and Telco’s following the American lead on this topic. There’s been little in the past to suggest that they have the knowledge or experience to act otherwise and there’s already evidence of local telcos acting contrary to net neutrality principles

While the battle is being fought on the other side of the world, I think this is a topic we should all be very much aware of.

I’d love to hear from someone more well-versed on the topic about what the real implications for Australian Internet users and startups are, especially if those startups are truly global in nature and have the US market as an important, but not singular, source of users.

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