The internet is a large part of our lives as college students, but it may be subjected by corporate regulation soon. In short, these regulations means the public is dishing out more cash and being told what type of content we can and cannot view.
On Nov. 21, the Federal Communications Commission released a plan to repeal landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet. These regulations are known as Net Neutrality, and they were put in place during the Obama administration. Net Neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the internet the same; ISPs cannot discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform application or method of communication. For example, under the principles of Net Neutrality, ISPs are not allowed to intentionally block, slow down, or charge money for specific websites and online content; however, on Dec. 14, these regulations may change.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made a proposal to dismantle Net Neutrality, “Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai said. “Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them.”
Pai claims if governmental regulations are removed from the internet, consumers will be happy; but by removing government regulation, Pai is creating stricter regulations for the internet and taking the power out of consumers hands. Instead of being able to freely roam the web, consumers (internet users) now will only be able to view websites, streaming services and other platforms that are provided by ISPs; even if internet users are able to view other websites under Pai’s proposal, some sites may be slower than others due to bullying by ISPs, who want consumers to use websites under their company’s umbrella.
If Net Neutrality is repealed, only large companies could afford the expense that ensures their sites receive preferential treatment. For example, a company such as Comcast may offer certain packages that include websites, search engines and streaming services at a fixed rate for purchase; however, if Comcast packages don’t include Netflix, then you will be unable to watch it or Netflix may be slower than Comcast’s streaming service.
Pai’s proposal to repeal Net Neutrality will stifle startup websites, independent voices and entrepreneurs who can’t afford to pay ISPs to be a part of their packages. Jason Citron, co-founder and CEO of the videogame centric chat and video conferencing app Discord, stated, “Net Neutrality is incredibly important for small startups like Discord because all internet traffic needs to be treated as equal for us all to have access to the same resources as the big companies.”
Companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Netflix have discussed their disapproval of Chairman Pai’s proposal stating, “We are disappointed that the proposal announced today by the FCC fails to maintain the strong net neutrality protections that will ensure the internet remains open for everyone.”
If you are against Chairman Pai’s proposal to repeal Net Neutrality, and you are for a free and open internet that stimulates ISP competition, helps prevent unfair pricing practices, promotes innovation from small internet businesses, promotes the spread of ideas and protects freedom of speech, then go contact the FCC at gofccyourself.com and leave a public comment in support of Net Neutrality. The future of the internet may depend on it.