Net Neutrality Policies: Proponents and Opponents
By admin November 28, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proceeding with long-anticipated plans to dismantle net neutrality protections, a decision that would have large implications for much of the general public. Last week, Ajit Pai, the chair of the FCC declared his intention to change the way access to the internet is regulated. The FCC subsequently released a 210-page document, Restoring Internet Freedom, outlining how it would rely more heavily on business competition and anti-trust laws to regulate how internet service providers (ISPs) charge for access to their services. The current net neutrality policy was set in 2015 and subject to regulations under Title II of the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act.

Net neutrality is the principle that all ISPs should treat all data on the internet equally. More specifically, it means ISPs that are purchased by consumers, such as Verizon or Comcast for instance, cannot discriminate by slowing or blocking delivery of data, nor can they charge more for them. Certain activities such as streaming videos require more data usage than other activities such as email or surfing the web. Without net neutrality in place, ISPs would be able to charge more for certain tiers of data usage, and it would also allow price discrimination against certain content providers.

However, there are distinctions over what how net neutrality applies. For instance, it applies to the type of data but not to messages or contents in the data. This means that ISPs cannot discriminate based on what is contained in the videos. This also includes prioritizing or disfavoring political content, or charging more for content associated with a particular political party and its ideology. Even so, there are voices expressing concern that content could be indirectly influenced if ISPs are allowed to prioritize certain file types or even content from certain companies owned by the ISPs. Although ISPs claim they will do no such thing, there remains a fear that they will bundle websites similar to how they bundle television channels.

Not surprisingly, most media and software companies oppose the recent moves by the FCC. Technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Dropbox, Twitter, Snapchat, Microsoft, and Spotify, among many others oppose rescinding of current net neutrality rules, partly due to fears that it enables telecom companies to charge Internet companies higher rates for faster connections, a premium that only the largest companies could afford. Additionally, proponents argue that these policies are necessary to counteract large ISP monopolies, promote tech entrepreneurship, and promote equal access to information. Without net neutrality, ISPs could create financial barriers for the general public to access types of internet data, as well as firms that do not have the resources to enter into deals with ISPs.

Most telecommunication companies support the FCCs recent move, including AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon. These opponents of net neutrality tend to argue that in theory, there should be minimal government regulation of industries such as technology with the assumption that the market will regulate itself and encourages the most competitive market price. Others argue that the US government is too large and powerful, and thus there should not be oversight in the public consumption of internet content. For FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, he argues net neutrality actually discourages ISPs from investing in their own services and networks, and thus is a way to efficiently streamline and consolidate services.

Following the FCC’s unveiling of net neutrality policies after Thanksgiving, it will allow for more than three weeks of public review before a vote by the commission on December 14. With the majority of the FCC panel consisting of Republicans, odds favor the passage of the measure.

Further Reading:

FCC Chair Seeks to Overturn ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules, With Implications for K-12

Net Neutrality Explained: What It Means (and Why It Matters)

Net neutrality: What is it and why do people care? 

Why we should be wary of ending net neutrality

When The FCC Kills Net Neutrality, Here’s What Your Internet Could Look Like

Why we should be wary of ending net neutrality

What is Net Neutrality and Why is it Important?


Thanks for sharing !

Comments are disabled.