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Nikki on Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now

Let's fight for Net Neutrality!

Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Let's fight for Net Neutrality!

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As I am sure you have heard, the FCC recently proposed a change in its policy on Net Neutrality, and people are not happy about it. To understand what this means, it is important to define Net Neutrality. Oxford dictionary explains Net Neutrality as, “The principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.” In other words, Net Neutrality protects the speed and accessibility of content from being censored by the arbitrary benefits of internet access providing companies. For example, if Comcast were to be paid by Nintendo, or an online gaming company, to make pages with other games on it load slowly, Comcast would be infringing on the current regulations set forth by the FCC.  

In the words of John Oliver,  “Net Neutrality is about more than just speed. At its heart, it is the principle that internet service providers, ISPs, (AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc.) should not be able to engage in any sort of…” behavior “…that limits or manipulates the choices you make online. It also helps ensure a level playing field so bigger companies can not undermine smaller companies before they take off.” Without Net Neutrality, new websites, online organizations, and forms of social media would find it nearly impossible to survive against already existing successful websites. While this may seem like a ridiculous proposal to the average internet user, it may be a compelling idea for ISPs who would benefit from being paid by large companies.

U.S. Federal Communications Commission via Wikimedia Commons
FCC chairman Ajit Pai has been pushing to repeal net neutrality.

The restrictions placed on ISPs fall under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which includes the protections that lead us to Net Neutrality.  Originally, ISPs fell under Title I of that same act, which had less authority and weaker regulations, making it much harder to enforce. Then, in 2015, under the Obama Administration, the FCC passed the Open Internet Order, allowing the FCC to classify ISPs as “common carriers” under Title II and ban activities related to throttling, blocking, and paid prioritization. This change was called into question once Ajit Pai was appointed FCC Chair under the Trump Administration. Pai is pushing for the repeal of the regulations set forth under the Obama Administration, including Net Neutrality. The repeal vote is being held on December 14th, 2017- the likely outcome is likely going to be a 3-2 vote in favor, due to the current party-affiliated standings of the panel.  Some citizens are claiming Pai is doing Verizon’s bidding, as he was a two-year associate general counsel for the company. Although, this seems a bit farfetched.  Others, however, have questioned his knowledge on the intricacies of net neutrality and the historical policies surrounding it, with Salon cover editor Keith A. Spencer claiming that Pai “doesn’t seem to know how the internet works.”

The ongoing debate on net neutrality has some frustrated.  Youtuber Ethan Klein, who posted an lengthy podcast on the net neutrality debate back in July, is shocked that the debate is still ongoing, saying in a recent video, “You have to have this conversation every other month… people are tired of talking about it… [the telecom companies] are grinding you down.”  He feels that the repeal of net neutrality “benefits about 1,000 people, the owners stock holders of telecom companies” and hurts the rest of the American populace.

Many are also claiming that the ISPs and cable companies are deliberately confusing people by labeling the repeal of net neutrality as the “Restoring Internet Freedom Act.”  Referring to a net neutrality repeal as the “Restoring Internet Freedom Act” gives it an appeal, but in reality the bill takes the internet, which is already free, and allows it to be restricted in new and harmful ways.  The oxymoronic characterization of the bill seems to be a calculated attempt to persuade Americans to support a bill that directly opposes their interests.  In Klein’s not-so-optimistic words “It is a battle of misinformation and confusion, and we are going to lose.”  I, however, feel that there is still hope for net neutrality.

Type One welcomes all opinions and perspectives. If you want to write a letter to the editor, propose an idea, article, or editorial for Type One, please visit our Contact Page to submit a request.

Sources: Youtube, Twitter, Salon, Oxford Dictionary, Engadget, Washington Post, Morning Consult, Tech Crunch, Battle for the Net

Photo Sources: Gerd Altmann via Pixabay , U.S. Federal Communications Commission via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Nikki on Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now