How is your electronic life these days?  Are your downloads flowing smoothly?  Are your friends getting your texts quickly?  Are you satisfied with the cost of your internet access?  Bask in it while you can.  A U.S. federal appeals court has just changed the rules of the game for electronic communication.

The Federal Communications Commission, the same agency that regulates radio and television classifies broadband as an information service and has required Internet Service Providers to treat all information that flows through the internet equally, something called net neutrality.

UNM assistant professor of Computer Science Patrick Kelley explains it this way.

The ruling was made in a case originally brought by Verizon, which operates one of the largest telephone and internet provider systems in the U.S.   It says the FCC cannot enforce network neutrality as it has done the past few years.  This means Verizon and other Internet Service Providers may legally choose to deliver some content more rapidly or charge more to deliver some kinds of data such as movies.  So will we soon see price increases on our bills?

The FCC can now allow the ruling to stand or appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The FCC can also rewrite its rules to address data discrimination in another way or it can make internal changes about how it treats internet service providers and reclassify them as common carriers.  No decision has been made about how the FCC will respond.  Kelley looks at whether it would be better for the FCC to regulate traffic flow on the internet.

Kelley is teaching a Computer Ethics course at UNM this spring. It is filled to capacity.