No one goes online without certain prospects. You always look forward to be connected to whatever website you want not forgetting that with the advanced technology, internet has become a part of our everyday lives. You expect that your Internet Service Provider(ISP) isn’t messing up the data and is allowing you to access applications, contents and websites of your own choice.
You generally anticipate to be in charge of your internet activities. This has been possible due to a set of rules and regulations that were put in place by the Obama administration in 2015 leading to what is known as the “Net Neutrality”. It enables and protects free speech at the same time ensuring that ISP’s provides us with open network without any form of discrimination. This also ensures that the ISP are prevented from slowing down, speeding up or blocking any content, website or application that one may want to access. And this is the way that internet has always worked.
These rules regard internet as an essential utility like food and water. However, Net Neutrality rules are in jeopardy as Trump’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai wants to repeal them. It is ironic that the same FCC which allowed for the adoption of the Net Neutrality rules is the same that recently voted to let Pai’s internet-killing plan advance forward. Without Net Neutrality, ISP can deliberately slow down their opponent’s contents and promote their own or even block some websites. For example, Verizon purposefully slowed down Netflix to promote its own content until they were stopped by FCC, a body that now seems to reverse the decision.
ISP’s could even decide to charge extra fees to the new content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment- demoting everyone else to a slower tier of service and making internet a bit expensive. This would totally destroy the open internet. Open internet that has paved the way for so much innovation and given a platform to people who have historically been shut out, it would become a closed-down network where cable and phone companies call the shots and decide which websites, content or applications succeed. This would have an enormous impact.
Companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would be able to decide who is heard and who isn’t. They’d be able to block websites or content they don’t like or applications that compete with their own offerings. Before we take sides let us ask ourselves that, how would the next disruptive technology, company or business emerge if ISP decide to only let incumbents succeed? How would activists be able to fight oppression?
Though we can’t be surprised why chairman Pai, being a former Verizon lawyer, is moving fast to destroy the open internet. He wants to grant control of the internet to the very companies that violated Net Neutrality for years before FCC adopted its current rules in 2015. He is arguing that revoking the rules will create a competitive environment in which consumers will be able to demand a greater transparency by allowing service providers to choose what’s best for them.
The decision to revoke the rules will be made by a simple majority at an FCC meeting in mid-December, the board which consists of three republicans and two democrats. And the voting is expected to go along party lines. Chairman Pai wants to replace the agency’s strong rules with “voluntary” conditions that no ISP would ever comply with. Pai unveiled his plan in a closed-door meeting with industry lobbyists in April 2017 and officially kicked off a proceeding on May 18, 2017, when the FCC voted along party lines to move this proposal forward.
Since then the agency has been swamped by tens of millions of comments from internet users who want to keep the protections in place. Pai is ignoring the public outcry. In conclusion, personally I am against cancellation of Net Neutrality rules because of their vast positive impacts. For example, Net Neutrality is very crucial for small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs, who rely on the open internet to launch their businesses, create markets, advertise their products and services, and reach customers.
We need the open internet to foster job growth, competition and innovation. It lowers the barriers of entry by preserving the internet’s fair and level playing field. It’s because of Net Neutrality that small businesses and entrepreneurs have been able to thrive online. No company should be allowed to interfere with this open marketplace. ISPs are the internet’s gatekeepers, and without Net Neutrality, they would seize every possible opportunity to profit from that gatekeeper position.
What can we do now? Aren’t we strong enough to fight for our own freedom?