In 2015, while Internet users were blogging on social media pages, uploading videos and other content, and downloading files from a variety of sources, they had no idea that the Federal Communications Commission was going to bat for them. The FCC’s vote to preserve the open Internet, also known as “net neutrality”, made it possible for them to continue to use the Internet as they wish.
The premise of the Net Neutrality is that all traffic on the Internet should be treated the same, and that no one has the right to block or slow down services that a user chooses to access. And while it makes sense and sounds fair to most of us, the decision did come with opposition from internet providers who can no longer control bandwidth or force streaming companies to pay fees for faster service.
Most Internet users give little thought to the way Internet traffic is managed by their service providers. Providers are able to redirect network traffic to ensure smooth service during periods in which the Internet is congested, a benefit that users experience but don’t pay attention to (Reardon, 2015). The FCC’s 2015 decision to limit that control means that Internet service providers aren’t allowed to target any particular services or applications because they use too much bandwidth. They are required to treat all traffic on their networks the same.
This summer, net neutrality has become threatened by a 2017 change in the FCC administration (Reddy, 2017). Newly appointed chairman, Ajit Pai is reportedly endorsed by Internet Service Providers, and if he gets his way, Internet users will lose the freedom of on-demand access to any website or online service they choose (Brodkin, 2017). The potential for ISP’s to restrict what sites you use means that they could become sponsors for particular companies, like Bing for example. Consider the scenario in which you want to “Google” something and your provider only allows you to use Bing. Pai defends his argument with claims that dismantling net neutrality will improve the future of America’s economy.
While media giants Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Reddit all support net neutrality, Internet providers are spending a lot of money to keep the ball rolling that could possible dismantle it. It is in their best interest to do so, as it could potentially allow them to charge us for how we use the internet. It’s not unrealistic to imagine that we’ll be paying for access to specific sites the way we pay for access to specific television channels if net neutrality ceases to exist.
Despite the fact that most Internet users give no thought to the freedom that comes with net neutrality, the day is coming that it becomes an issue of which everyone will be aware. The threat to our freedom of information is a real one, and if the FCC changes the way in which we currently use the Internet, it will no doubt be in the best interest of corporate and political America.
Brodkin, J. (2017). Tech Policy. ArsTechnica.com. Retrieved 15 September 2017, from https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/07/congressman-blasts-ajit-pai-for-anti-consumer-anti-competition-agenda/
McKay, T. (2017). FCC chair Ajit Pai can’t come up with a single plausible reason not to screw up the entire US Internet. Gizmodo.com. Retrieved from http://gizmodo.com/fcc-chair-ajit-pai-cant-come-up-with-a-single-plausible-1797286906
Reardon, M. (2015). 13 Things you need to know about the FCC’s net neutrality regulation. Retreived from http://www.cnet.com/news/13-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-fccs-net-neutrality-regulation/
Reddy, N. (2017). Net neutrality in 2017 – what you should know. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/net-neutrality-in-2017-what-you-should-know_us_599debf0e4b06d67e334fa94