The End Of Net Neutrality: What It Means For You
Completely ignoring overwhelming opposition from both Congress, experts, and the American people, the FCC has passed a vote to end net neutrality. The passing vote moved to remove Obama-era regulations established in 2015. The order, called “Restoring Internet Freedom” removes the FCC from being the regulatory agency for the internet, moving power over to internet service providers, or ISP’s for short.
Net neutrality is the principle that ISP’s must treat all data on the internet as the same. This means that ISP’s cannot discriminate against what is being accessed on the internet by throttling speeds or blocking certain content. The concept essentially treats broadband internet as a public utility, allowing equal access to it for everyone. Those in favor of repealing net neutrality argue that by abolishing regulations on the internet, it allows for competition to flourish among ISP’s, and innovative practices will come about.
So who benefits from the repealing of net neutrality? Well, the massive ISP’s of course. With these regulations now gone, ISP’s will now have the ability to create what is known as “fast lanes” on the internet. Much like toll roads, ISP’s will be able to charge a toll in order to access certain content. Imagine a world where in order to access your favorite social media sites, you have to purchase a “Premium Social Media Package” for an extra $9.99 a month on top of your internet bill.
In addition to “fast lanes”, ISP’s will also be able to block websites they deem competitive, or even throttle speeds for accessing media unless you pay a certain price to increase your speeds. Want to continue binge-watching your favorite Netflix show? Well, you’ll want to upgrade to the “Video Content Package” for an extra $29.99 per month. This is the potential impact it could have on your everyday life.
Many large tech companies took to Twitter to express their concern over repealing net neutrality. Netflix said, “We’re disappointed in the decision to gut net neutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order”
Politicians also expressed their concern over the vote, with California Senator Scott Weiner vowing to introduce legislature that will adopt net neutrality as a standard in California. He stated, “If the FCC won’t protect open/free internet, we will”. So far, he has garnered massive support from fellow California lawmakers, and plans to introduce these changes in January. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is also planning to sue the FCC to stop what he says is an, “illegal rollback” of net neutrality, and will lead a multistage lawsuit.
The fact that Chairman Pai went through with this vote despite the overwhelming unpopularity of it among U.S. citizens is shocking to say the least. Someone who was not even an elected official should not be able to make such decisions that can impact our entire nation. As the dust settles after the vote, it will be a long battle to come with gaining the right to a free and open internet.