Net neutrality. You may have heard the two words, but do you know what it is? Net neutrality is defined by the FCC as rules [that] protect your ability to go where you want when you want online. Broadband service providers cannot block or deliberately slow speeds for internet services or apps, favor some internet traffic in exchange for consideration or engage in other practices that harm internet openness.
If you live in the US and you haven’t been paying attention to the news, now is the time to take notice. To break it down, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday [Nov. 21, 2017] unveiled plans to repeal a landmark 2015 order that barred internet service providers from blocking or slowing down consumer access to web content, and said the U.S. regulator will prevent states and cities from adopting similar protections, according to CBC. If approved, this gives a ‘major victory’ for internet service providers, including AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp, and Verizon Communications Inc, which had urged the FCC to revoke the rules in the first place.
So why should you care? FCC chief Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump in January, said the commission will vote at a Dec. 14 meeting on rescinding the so-called net neutrality rules championed by Democratic former President Barack Obama that treated internet service providers like public utilities, says CBC. Should this repeal pass, this will allow big companies to control what you do online. Major internet providers will make you pay for, slow down, or even block certain content. This infringes on your right to an open, fair and ‘free-flowing’ internet.
If repealed, websites could lose priority on the internet, meaning slower service. How could you get higher priority you ask? By paying for it of course. What this means is the loss of net neutrality could be detrimental to small businesses trying to compete against large companies with deep pockets. Not only will small businesses be greatly affected, but businesses that compete with the ruling providers would also be affected. Take Netflix for example, their streaming could be slowed to give an upper hand to the internet provider if they choose to create their own streaming service, making Netflix less desirable.
Even though this article focuses on the US, this debate is not limited to just the US. Minimal net neutrality exists in places already, such as Portugal. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) can charge customers to access different streams of the internet, such as email service, streaming, messaging, and social media applications. With the global influence of the United States, nowhere is immune to a net neutrality debate; what seems stable now, could turn into a domino effect around the world.
As cliché as it sounds, knowledge is power. Share this article with your family and friends. Stand up for your right to an unhindered internet. We encourage you to join the battle for net neutrality and inform yourself by clicking here. You can also help by visiting the following sites and signing the petition or contacting Congress.