New Bill In Senate Could Label Netflix, Inc. A “Cyber Threat”

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The Cybersecurity Information Protection Act of 2014 is terrible for consumers and would all but guarantee that Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) would be forced to pay ISPs in order to provide customers with the Netflix experience that they presently have.

Broad language could punish video streaming sites such as Netflix

The broad language in the bill would allow ISPs to employ “countermeasures” again “cybersecurity threats.”  A threat, in the bill, is anything that makes information unavailable or less available, and video streaming cites could certainly find themselves in the latter category given the amount of bandwidth they use. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) during peak hours can make up about a third of global Internet traffic. Essentially, ISPs could put an end to the open Internet without a ruling from the Federal Communications Commission.

“A company could, as a cybersecurity countermeasure, slow down Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) in order to make other data going across its pipes more available to users,” according to Greg Nojeim, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy and Technology who recently made that statement to Jason Koebler at Motherboard.

Opposition to the bill

Nojeim has made his opposition to the bill very clear and was among the authors of a letter to the bill’s sponsor Dianne Feinstein the senior (Democrat) Senator from the state of California. In the letter, over a dozen civil liberties groups including the CDT, ACLU, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation claim the bill “arbitrarily harms average internet users.”

“Net neutrality is a complex topic and policy on this matter should not be set by cybersecurity legislation,” they wrote.

Last year, the bill that wasn’t passed included net neutrality protections whereas this time around those have been scrapped. The bill is still in committee and was going to be discussed by the Senate Intelligence Committee (which is chaired by Feinstein) but that plan was pushed back to sometime in the future. There is no guarantee that it will make it to the floor or that it will pass if brought to a vote but it should make for an interesting summer and Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) will certainly have their lobbyists at the ready.

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