Net neutrality is a principle saying that all Internet service providers should treat data equally. What happens without a neutral net?
Net neutrality is a principle saying that all Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat data equally. It guarantees that ISPs aren’t allowed to discriminate by charging clients differently. ISPs can’t prioritize, block or throttle any content on the internet for any reason. For example, if my phone bill is too high and decide to look for something cheaper, I shouldn’t have to worry about my AT&T internet slowing down while I’m checking for prices on a Sprint website. I’m still paying AT&T for my internet therefore, my service should stay intact no matter the website I’m on. This was happening until the Federal Trade Commission or FCC; reclassified ISPs as common utility carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 in 2015. This reclassification protects content creators from being charged by ISPs to prioritize their content; all while protecting freedom of expression for US citizens using the internet to express themselves. This reclassification also allows the FCC to enact the strictest regulations on ISPs.
When it comes to web based companies or content providers, who depend on web traffic to stay in business; slowing down connectivity to their sites can put them out of business leaving people jobless. Without net neutrality ISPs have the power to slow connectivity to anyone they don’t agree with, infringing on their First Amendment rights. ISPs would be able to tag on extra fees to access certain content and charge content creators to prioritize their website over others. All of this is being done in the pursuit of the all mighty dollar.
This decision wasn’t universally supported within the FCC. Democrats within the FCC supported the reclassification, while Republicans in the FCC opposed the decision. So now, with a Republican Ajit Pai serving as the FCC’s new chairmen he’s planning to undo the reclassification of ISPs under Title II. This would allow them to conduct business however they please. Pai feels the restrictions are too limiting and discourage growth in the industry. This is problematic because many of the reason stated earlier. This was the only way to impose net neutrality, ensuring the integrity of the internet. Without it, we are at the mercy of big businesses and we know all they care about is our wellbeing *cough cough*. Let’s briefly think of another scenario where larger companies start to pay ISPs to limit and eliminate their competition. Or another scenario where ISPs start charging on a tier system for websites like cable companies do for premium programing.
This could potentially be a nightmare for consumers, making service prices skyrocket. By granting ISPs more power the FCC is taking away power from the consumer. Should the government be able to enact such regulations on ISPs in the first place, should they use a light-touch approach only stepping in after consumers are harmed, or should the government regulate the internet at all? I think they should probably setting in place a set of regulations without holding ISPs under their thumbs. All is not totally lost though, Ajit Pai says he supports an open net or net neutrality and plans on finding a more contemporary less restrictive solution of ensuring a neutral open web. Now let’s just hope the FCC finds a workable solution, otherwise the sanctity of the internet could be lost forever. Otherwise the internet might turn into a cyber version of the wild west where the person with the most money wins rather than the person creating the best content. For additional information about ISPs and the FCC check out Brandon Ballenger’s piece “Trump Is Stealing Your Internet Privacy.”
Meet the Author
Article last modified on March 8, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Why Net Neutrality is Crucial - AMP.