On December 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on repealing the net neutrality rules that have governed open access on the internet since the Obama-era of the US presidency. This has become such a major issue, that social media and internet giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and even Snapchat have joined together and spoken out against repealing the current net neutrality rules. Based on all of the different scenarios that have been presented about what would happen if the net neutrality rules were abolished, it would seem that the only entities that would be glad for a repeal of the current net neutrality rules are the telecom service providers themselves, as they have reportedly spent over $572 million on lobbying in attempts to influence the FCC and other government agencies to repeal the net neutrality rules since 2008.
Ajit Pai, the new FCC commissioner, is a republican who began his term with his aggressive anti-neutrality stance since he took office in January 2017 after being appointed to the position by Donald Trump. Pai, who used to work as a lawyer for Verizon, believes that consumers will be better off with a competitive, “non preemptive[ly] regulat[ed] market.” Pai is known for being anti-regulation, supports an “open internet,” and believes that less regulation in this area is more beneficial to market growth. Several news sources are reporting that the net neutrality rules will be repealed since anti-neutrality votes in the currently republican-controlled FCC have a 3-2 lead over net neutrality supporters.
What exactly is Net Neutrality? Simply put, net neutrality is the principle that people should be free to access all content on the internet equally, regardless of the source of said content, without Internet Service Providers discriminating against specific online services or websites. It is the fundamental concept that the internet service provider that connects you to the internet does not then get to control what you do on the internet, or which content gets to you faster than other content, or making you pay more to get quicker access to certain websites. Essentially, the current net neutrality rules are what have kept the internet open for all.
Why is this all so extremely concerning? Well, without net neutrality rules, internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast Xfinity, AT&T, Optimum, Time Warner Cable, and even (primarily) mobile service providers such as T-Mobile, Sprint, and MetroPCS, will be able to charge different web companies for “fast lanes,” which would allow those selected companies to get their content to you faster, while smaller websites, video providers, or video game providers would be regulated to the “slow lane” (unless they could cough up the money to buy their way into the fast lane). Current net neutrality regulations prevent service providers from doing these things, as it requires them to keep internet speeds neutral for all entities that provide a service on the internet. The biggest service providers such as Amazon, Google, and Netflix, could have to cough up extra money, or consumers (i.e. anyone who has purchased an internet /Wi-Fi/data package) could see their rates go up. If the net neutrality rules are repealed, Internet Service Providers would be able to start charging you bundle packages for access to different websites just like they do for certain television channels like HBO and Showtime.
December 14 is exactly 17 days away from today. There is still time for people to get their voice their concern to the FCC voting commission before the final vote is made. If you click on this link, it will take you directly to the page on the FCC where you can leave your comment about preserving net neutrality (see link). Once you open the link, click on “+ Express” and leave your comment. You have until December 7 to leave your comment before the FCC will no longer accept any more public comments on the issue of net neutrality. You should also contact your congressional representative (click here) and your state’s senator (click here) and urge them to pass legislation solidifying net neutrality once and for all.