5 Things You Need to Know About Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality Pros and Cons

  • The 2015 Ruling’s Impact
  • Repealing It Has Major Consequences
  • ISPs Would Benefit From Repeal
  • Major Corporations Support Keeping Net Neutrality
  • The Fight For Neutrality Is Ongoing

Net neutrality is a term that is often spoken about but rarely fully discussed. In short, it is a regulation that allows Americans fair access to the internet at large. Recently, the issue has been in the news because the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the regulation that offers this service to Americans. It goes so far that some publications, such as Motherboard, are reporting that the commission is blocking investigations into comment fraud on this issue. Here are five facts everyone needs to know about this very important issue.

The 2015 Ruling’s Impact

2015 brought about the first legislation aimed at internet neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission, which is in charge of the internet, classified the internet as a “common carrier,” meaning that the internet could not be slowed or halted by ISPs, or Internet Service Providers, as a way to gain more money from its customers. The decision was championed by former President Barack Obama and paved the way for America to be a leader in the decision to keep the internet open for all its citizens. The ruling, which has only been in effect for two years, is currently under threat by the newly installed FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, who is known to be against the regulation.

Repealing It Has Major Consequences

Politics aside, the current FCC commission is slated towards repealing net neutrality, as stated by Wired. The impact could be devastating for everyone from private citizens interested in streaming applications to students who need access to different sites that could be throttled by increased price tiers offered by their ISPs, or Internet Service Providers. What’s more, there’s currently an idea that small businesses could be negatively impacted by having their websites blocked by slower internet speeds, as reported by Marketplace. In the end, America as a whole would lose free and neutral access to the internet.

ISPs Would Benefit From Repeal

To be more succinct, ISPs would benefit from repeal. This is because the repeal of the 2015 law would allow them to charge more for access to different apps or sites, such as streaming services or social media applications. Because no law would hinder from doing so, these ISP providers, which range from broadband to cell providers, could introduce tiered payment plans to allow customers access to the services they enjoyed previously. From a customer’s point of view, if a customer can’t afford to pay more for specialized internet access, they would be barred from using those services. That spells trouble for journalists, activists, and citizens who enjoy their entertainment from streaming services.

Read: Top 10 Computer Science Degrees Online

Major Corporations Support Keeping Internet Neutrality

Content providers, such as Youtube, Google, Amazon, and others, are in favor of keeping the regulations. That’s because these sites and providers thrive on engagement; customers with free access play a large role in profits for these companies. Without the regulations in place, most e-commerce sites will see a decrease in both sales and engagement. That spells trouble for major corporations who rely on the internet for the bulk of their business. While Pai, a long-standing critic of the regulation, says that moving towards a freer internet would build businesses, the opposite seems to be true; more than 60 percent of all Americans and corporations oppose losing the regulations.

The Fight For Neutrality Is Ongoing

The truth about the fight for neutrality is this: even if the FCC were to decide to repeal the regulations, the fight would continue. As Smithsonian explains, states and cities could try to create their own rules on neutrality, which could provide cover for the citizens in their jurisdiction, but Pai could fight those efforts. That means that the fight could go into another lengthy court battle and may end up in the hands of the Supreme Court. Either way, the FCC’s word on this matter isn’t the end of the issue; it could just be the beginning of a massive legal battle.

While it may seem like an issue that wouldn’t affect Americans, the truth is that the repeal of these regulations may lead to stricter internet access, a loss of commerce for small businesses, and an internet that no longer works to serve the public. This country is a democracy, however, so the issue is far from closed; now that the FCC has gone ahead with its plan to repeal the 2015 legislation, it stands to reason that American citizens will fight the decision. While this article doesn’t touch on everything people need to know about net neutrality, it does strive to speak on the importance of the issue; it is hoped that more consumers will take this concern to heart when discussing the free and open internet.