Due to pushes by the FCC, people living in the United States may soon have major changes to the internet that would affect them everyday. What’s happening? The potential loss of net neutrality.
But what is Net neutrality? Well, according to Battle For The Net, it’s the principle that internet service providers such as Comcast, Time Warner/Spectrum and Verizon shouldn’t have control over what customers see and do online. Supporting net neutrality is supporting free speech, as ISPs would be prohibited from throttling or outright blocking different websites that don’t pay. This would include potential censorship of news organizations and social media.
Internet service providers would be allowed to slow down connection to any site they feel, which would promote monopolies and hurt start-up businesses. The creation of an internet “fast lane” would appear, where connection is free to those who would pay more for privileges we already have access to now. That would leave “slow lanes” for everyone else. For example, if a streaming service like Netflix wouldn’t pay up, users would have to deal with excruciating slow connection, or instead use the ISP’s own service. This grants companies like Comcast/Verizon a powerful monopoly over competition, and restricting the ability for the Netflix/Spotify of tomorrow has a fair opportunity to bloom.
The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, has the job of protecting/regulating the communication networks across America. The internet, due to its major role in communications, is under their jurisdiction. The FCC is headed by five commissioners, which are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed for a five-year term by Senate. Though lead by five, the group has a designated chairperson. The current representative, Ajit Pai, has come into the spotlight recently over his stance on Net Neutrality. He quickly has become the posterchild for those against NN, as his stance and aggressive actions towards neutrality have plastered him across the internet. He is the leader of the newest movement to strip the internet of net neutrality.
That’s right, this isn’t the first time internet service providers have tried to rid the internet of neutrality. As BFTN refers to it, it’s Team Internet vs Team Cable, with the first being for net neutrality and the latter being against it. Back in 2015, after 500,000 phone calls, 10 million emails to congress and 2.5 million petition signatures, net neutrality was upheld.
Team Cable has been trying this for years, but recently they have gotten extremely close to finally accomplishing their goal. However, back in July hundreds of websites and businesses held a protest to try and promote Team Internet. The event got the attention of teans of millions of visitors, which lead to over two million comments to the FCC, with 5,000,000+ emails and ~124,000 calls to members of US Congress. Some of the businesses that participated include: Netflix, KickStarter, Twitter, Reddit, Discord, OkCupid and more. Some of the more popular faces of Team Internet include British comedian/television host John Oliver and former presidential candidate and senator of Vermont Bernie Sanders.
Unfortunately, now it seems that there is a final stand is in place, as net neutrality in America appears to be on its back legs. Though the situation is dire, the end result is still up in the air. It’s up to members of congress to decide on the fate of NN. Only a public outburst of phone calls and disdain may turn the tide of the situation, and get the attention of representatives. Currently, a petition on WhiteHouse.gov has reached over double the required signatures in order to receive a public address by the White House, so a statement will come sometime in the next 60 days. On top of this, there are protests being scheduled across the nation for December 7th, where people will stand together in person to unite against the FCC.
Unless you are one of the heads representing Team Cable, you will be negatively affected by the loss of net neutrality. Whether it be by added cost to things you have access to now (such as specific sites) or having to face a throttled and slowed internet, you will most likely face the consequences of the change. For more information on how to help fight for a free internet, visit BattleForTheNet.com
Works Cited: Wired.com, WhiteHouse.gov, BattleForTheNet.com