You’re surfing Instagram, just enjoying pictures or texting your friends, when all of the sudden the screen freezes up. You reload the app and a new message says you now have to pay monthly to use the app any longer. This unfortunately might become a reality.
On December 14th, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality.
As defined by abcnews.com, net neutrality is a law stating that all internet service providers (ISPs) treat all content of the internet equally. This is done by not blocking or slowing down certain sites. Net Neutrality, most often referred to as Open Internet, basically gives all internet users equal access to the world wide web without having to pay to access certain sites. Net neutrality laws were passed in 2015 under the Obama administration, citing Title II of the Communications Act.
According to The New York Times under Title II, ISPs are not allowed to block, throttle or enforce paid prioritization. Blocking is when internet service providers discriminate against any lawful content by blocking websites or apps. Title II meant ISPs were not allowed to decide what is shown and what’s not.
Throttling is where service providers slow the transmission of data based on the nature of the content, which means if the ISPs disagree with or don’t care for things shown, they can choose to slow it down. Net neutrality meant that they couldn’t buffer sites purely on the basis of content, which would allow the ISPs to make more money for popular sites that needed to be paid for to view.
Paid Prioritization is when service providers create an internet fast lane for companies and consumers who pay premiums, and a slow lane for those who don’t. The restriction of this practice under net neutrality laws makes sure ISPs are not being biased on who gets to see what, how fast their service is, based on if they have paid a premium or not. This is why the repeal of net neutrality is such a dire concern.
If these regulations are repealed it will affect the digital world. While most of us here at Loy Norrix usually only use the internet for entertainment, many people have jobs where the majority of their workload is on the internet. Companies will have free reign to fill websites with ads and will have the legal ability to prevent certain sites from being used unless the user pays monthly.
Some people don’t have the money to pay for their sites, which means they won’t be able to use them. That’s unfair on many levels, our current society relies so much on technology and the internet; why should those of a lower socioeconomic standing be denied internet access? Why discriminate against the people who can’t afford the premium payments when the internet is supposed to be an open world for everyone? Many job opportunities are also online. This might deny others the right to even get a job.
Now, why is the FCC so intent on taking away net neutrality in the first place? FCC Chairman and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai explained his point of view in an interview conducted by The New York Times. He said the laws were “based on hypothetical harms and hysterical prophecies of doom” and that the laws were an excuse to “achieve their longstanding goal of forcing the Internet under the federal government’s control.” Pai said net neutrality impedes innovation.
The choice is yours on whether or not to let this be finalized. Technically, the repeal will only go into place sometime in the near future, so there is still time to act. Contact these sites if you wish to protest. These sites will send your arguments directly to Congress: