Everything You Need to Know About Net Neutrality
The who, what, when, and why of one of the most recently talked about political issues
December 13, 2017
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality was put in place to ensure equal access to information to all citizens and to protect our right to free speech; it is heavily backed up by legislation, specifically, Title II of the Communications Act of 1943 and the Open Internet Order of 2015.
In essence these documents state that internet service providers (or IFPs) must treat everything accessible through the internet equally. Therefore they cannot discriminate based on user, content, website, platform, or anything of that nature. This inhibits provider’s ability to speed up, slow down, or block certain content based on their own biases or more likely money.
Why is Net Neutrality Being Threatened?
The reasons behind revoking Net Neutrality find their root, like most things do, in money. With the repeal of Net Neutrality IFPs would be free to impose fast and slow ‘lanes’ into our internet access with accompanying high or low price points, therefore, accumulating more money for themselves.
One might ask, why would the government be in favor of this? Again, the simple answer is money. According to The Verge, Congress has accepted 101 million dollars from the ISP industry across all parties, mainly from AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon.
Another reason is former Verizon lawyer FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a strong opposer of Net Neutrality. Pai claims that repealing it would open the internet up to new innovation due to the fact that there would be more money going into it. “So when you get past the wild accusations, fearmongering, and hysteria, here’s the boring bottom line,” said Pai in a speech at the libertarian-leaning R Street Institute, “The plan to restore Internet freedom would return us to the light touch, market-based approach under which the Internet thrived.”
Why Should We Care?
The repeal of Net Neutrality squashes the little guy; making it even more difficult or even impossible to get social movements or start ups off the ground. Bigger companies such as Google, Netflix, CNN, or Fox News would be able to pay the steeper prices to get themselves on the fast track; however, they won’t take the hit to their profits without a structure change.
If Net Neutrality is repealed, one can expect for all prices on the internet to go up or in some cases, like with Google products or many news sites, start all together. One of the crucial strides the internet has made on behalf of society is free and easily accessible information, without Net Neutrality this will likely disappear altogether.
What Can We Do About it?
Unfortunately, this issue will not be put up to a vote for the general public, but that does not render us helpless. One of the most important things you can do to help stop the repeal of Net Neutrality is annoy your legislators; bombard them with calls, emails, texts, letters, or any other way you can think of to contact them. Additionally, you can sign petitions and spread the word. The vote takes place on Dec. 14; we have time, but not very much of it.
Photo by Maria Koliopoulos
Net Neutrality: The Key to the Free and Open Internet
Why Net Neutrality rules must be preserved
What have you done on the internet today?
Chances are, you’ve done at least a few Google searches, checked your Twitter feed, maybe done some research for a class. Maybe you visited a blog, purchased some clothes, or watched Netflix.
You did all those things, likely, without a second thought. That’s because our ability and freedom to access anything we want on the Internet is taken for granted.
That freedom is under attack.
This Thursday, Dec. 14, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on a proposal to lift protections on the free and open internet that we know. That proposal, introduced by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, would eliminate rules that require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Cox and CenturyLink to treat all data traveling through their networks, regardless of the website it comes from, equally. This means that ISPs can’t slow down or block certain websites or charge you extra to use Google over Yahoo! search.
This may sound like a jumble of tech jargon and legalese, but few potential policy changes would affect more Americans than the elimination of Net Neutrality. There are a number of reasons why you should care:
Without Net Neutrality, ISPs can inhibit you from visiting certain sites. Since many ISPs hold ownership in entertainment and Internet-based companies, ISPs could speed up access to sites with which they are affiliated, whilst slowing down or even charging extra for a competitor’s site. For example, Verizon Communications, one of the largest ISPs in America, wholly owns Yahoo!, the search engine and email provider. So, Verizon has a strong interest in driving traffic to Yahoo.com and keep traffic off of Google’s site. Without Net Neutrality, nothing stops them from taking steps to slow down or charge extra for users to visit Google.com.
Without Net Neutrality, ISPs have enormous influence on which ideas spread and which are squandered. The Internet is a place where opinions, popular and unpopular alike, can be shared with others. It is a platform for everyone to make a case for their ideas. Right now, ISPs are allowed no influence over how ideas spread on the Internet. If that changed, the very integrity of public opinion and what people hold to be true would come under attack. ISPs could censor content that they don’t agree with or hide websites that don’t align with their political agenda.
Without Net Neutrality, ISPs could bully sites into paying huge premiums to avoid being put in the slow lane of Internet traffic. In a world without Net Neutrality, ISPs get to throttle data transfer speeds for individual websites. Thus, they could demand huge sums of money from big websites to keep their speeds up. This would drive up prices of goods and services from nearly every company that has a website, since they all would have to pay ISPs. These rules would also hinder small businesses and startups that can’t afford to pay such fees.
The face of Net Neutrality repeal is Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC. Pai, who formely worked as legal counsel for Verizon Communications, argues that eliminating Net Neutrality will allow for innovation in Internet service. He believes that by letting the free market take over, the issue will take care of itself.
On many issues, I’d agree with him. The private sector often can solve problems more efficiently or inventively than the government. But the internet is different. It’s more like a utility than just another product or service. In fact, nearly one in three American households only has one ISP to choose from, and two in three have only two choices for internet service. The free market works best in sectors where the capacity for competition exists. When it comes to utilities, government regulation is necessary.
The movement in support of Net Neutrality is growing. Show your support by contacting your congressperson to express your support of Net Neutrality protections.
Photo by The Verge
FCC Votes to End Net Neutrality
Open Internet Order of 2015 repealed on vote along party lines
Dec. 14, 2017 – This morning, the FCC–led by chairman Ajit Pai–voted to repeal the Open Internet Order of 2015, commonly referred to as “Net Neutrality.” The decision was made on a 3-2 party-line vote, with Republicans voting for and Democrats against. Members of the majority, comprised of Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioners Michael O’Reilly and Brendan Carr, claim that the order puts stifling regulations on ISPs. Minority commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn claim that the decision will hurt consumers.
Republicans expect the decision to increase investment in internet infrastructure. In an Op-Ed for The Wall Street Journal, Chairman Pai said: “Small companies have told the FCC that these regulations have forced them to cancel, delay or curtail upgrades to their fiber networks.” If companies no longer had to abide by these restrictions, they could invest saved expenses in fiber-optic networks,making America’s internet competitive with other developed nations.”
Junior Josh Gromowsjy supports the FCC’s ruling. “I believe that eliminating Net Neutrality will allow for more competition that will make the internet more free and promote innovation,” Gromowsky said. Gromowsky says a free-market approach could lead to better technologies at lower prices.
Even without net neutrality, antitrust laws and other regulations that have been in place since the 90s will stay intact, providing some guidelines to protect consumers.
However, unintended consequences of the decision could permanently change the internet, opponents say. The repeal opens the door for ISPs to abuse their freedom and throttle competition. Providers could break the internet into packages, as cable networks do.
Another worry of opponents is the protection of Freedom of Speech. “Net Neutrality protects the very purpose of the internet. Repealing it brings us one step closer to mass media and telecom companies fully controlling the dispensation of information,” junior Nate Meister tweeted. Twitter itself recently came under fire for censoring certain tweets, and with these rollbacks in regulation it is possible that a certain amount of censorship could come from service providers themselves.
Supporters of Net Neutrality have threatened to take the FCC’s decision to court. Earlier open internet proposals have been struck down in court. It is possible that the Open Internet Order of 2015 could be restored by a federal court, or the FCC’s decision could possibly be delayed by a court for months or even years.