A Simple Definition of Net Neutrality
Net Neutrality is the internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online. Net Neutrality means an internet that enables and protects free speech. It means that ISPs should provide us with open networks — and shouldn’t block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company shouldn’t decide who you call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn’t interfere with the content you view or post online.
Net Neutrality, Do I want it?
It was guys night out and a friend of mine asked me, “What is Net Neutrality and do I want it?” Good question! I didn’t have a good answer though. I think I sort of new that Net Neutrality was a good thing, but was I for it or against it? After doing some research I thought I would go right to the source and find out what the government was saying about Internet regulations and I found this great video that explains Net Neutrality and how the government has reverted to a “light-touch” approach to regulating the Internet – and that means they took away Net Neutrality.
Here is a quick guide to Net Neutrality (and how it impacts you)
On December 14, 2017 the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules, which required internet service providers to offer equal access to all web content without charging consumers for higher-quality delivery or giving preferential treatment to certain websites. Full story here.
These are the rules that were repealed
The original rules went into effect in 2015 and laid out a regulatory plan that addressed a rapidly changing internet. Under those regulations, broadband service was considered a utility under Title II of the Communications Act, giving the F.C.C. broad power over internet providers. The rules prohibited the following practices:
BLOCKING Internet service providers could not discriminate against any lawful content by blocking websites or apps.
THROTTLING Service providers could not slow the transmission of data based on the nature of the content, as long as it is legal.
PAID PRIORITIZATION Service providers could not create an internet fast lane for companies and consumers who pay premiums, and a slow lane for those who don’t.
So don’t all of these sound reasonable?
When I read through these rules I can’t help but think they sound reasonable, but I also can see how they are limiting to free enterprise. If I have a set of services that can be provided at a premium rate, then why wouldn’t I charge more for them? It’s like Uber, Uber is not forced to provide the same level of service to all of its customers. Instead, they have multiple services at varying prices and the consumer gets to choose what is the best fit for them and their budget. But maybe it’s not that black and white? The only people that seem to benefit from removing Net Neutrality is really ISP’s like Comcast or Verizon.
The Fight For Net Neutrality
In recent News, Adam Morfeld, a state legislator in Nebraska is trying to bring Net Neutrality back. There is a fear that “greedy companies are going to charge for what should be given to people freely.” There is even a website called battlefortheinternet.com that supports Net Neutrality stating: “The FCC just voted to gut net neutrality rules, letting Internet providers like Verizon and Comcast control what we can see and do online with new fees, throttling, and censorship. But we can still get Congress to stop this—by passing a “Resolution of Disapproval” to overturn the FCC vote.”
So when I started to write this article I realized I had no clue what Net Neutrality really meant, I just thought I knew. Now, I’m on the fence. I can see both sides of the problem and maybe there needs to be some rules to govern how large internet service providers control the content that they are distributing, especially if they are producing their own content.
Here is an extended take on the subject by John Oliver who pretty much says that cable companies are the main beneficiaries of repealing Net Neutrality and that they have spent a great deal of money lobbying politicians on the subject.
I’m curious to know your thoughts.