By: Liz Kittle
Over the past month you have probably heard the words “net neutrality” at least ten times, in class, at lunch, at home, or on some form of social media. You might have asked “what even is net neutrality, and why is it a big deal?”. On December 14, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal the 2015 legislation, which will ultimately change the way users are able to utilize their Internet at home, work, or even at school.
Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers, (or ISPs as they are going to be referred as through the article), such as Comcast or Verizon, should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. What exactly does this mean? This means that ISPs can not make any websites slower so that people frequent them less, or if people frequent them less. If a website gets a lot of visitors per day, ISPs can not make these websites run any faster than websites who get two visitors per day. ISPs also have to charge a flat rate for use of every single website on the Internet right now. This means that they can’t make your bill go up monthly by frequenting Twitter over Facebook, or if you use Netflix more than Hulu. Without these regulations in place, many people fear that ISPs would make certain content a priority if they have a selfish reason to. For example, if Verizon owns a website, they can make any other website similar to their own run slower so you are forced to use theirs, without net neutrality laws.
Many people see the repeal of net neutrality as another ploy by President Trump to rid the nation of any “Obama-era” acts, laws, or regulations. The FCC (Federal Communications Commision) is an appointed group of officials whose main task is to regulate interstate commerce. President Trump appointed current commissioner Ajit Pai in January 2017, in what some are saying was only to push his own agenda of ending net neutrality.
Another reason the FCC is seeing a lot of push back on the repeal of the 2015 Title II laws is that many citizens see the repeal as a ploy for the tops of the ISPs to make more money. Without net neutrality, the ISPs can charge whatever prices they want for services. So does repealing neutrality really promote fair trade? No, it simply promotes greedy CEOs looking to make more money. Chairman Pai was at one time a top lawyer for Verizon, so many people think he is repealing neutrality in order for the tops of ISPs to make more money. He claims that the CEOs will instill a “trickle down” idea, where the CEOs will spread out the money to the rest of the company. Which from history we know the CEOs will most likely just pocket the money.
Why did they repeal net neutrality? According to the New York Times, Pai was opposed to the current rules because “the more heavily you regulate something, the of it you’re likely to get.” He also said that before the rules were put into place in 2015, ISPs didn’t regulate the Internet as people feared they were going to.
The reason people are worried about the FCC repealing the rules is not that ISPs are going to control the Internet it’s now that they have the ability to. Another concern is that the government would blatantly ignore what the majority of citizens were requesting.
In conclusion, net neutrality is a big deal and you should definitely care about it. Without net neutrality laws the way we use the internet could change forever.