Net Neutrality: All You Need To Know About It
The five commissioners of the United States’ FCC voted 3-2 vote against net neutrality which resulted in its end in the country. New laws are presently applied only in the United States. Here’s everything you need to know about net neutrality:
What is Net Neutrality?
Whether it is early morning or late nights, when you open your web browser in order to surf the internet, you have certain expectations. You want the full power of the internet to be in your hands. Every one of you wants to be connected to every website that exists on the internet without any limitations. You don’t want to let your phone company or cable mess with whatever you’re doing online. This is Net Neutrality.
Basically, net neutrality preserves your right to communicate freely in the web space. It prohibits internet service providers from altering the speed at which you browse websites and block any content or applications that you’re aiming to use. It was in 2015 when millions of activists together persuaded the Federal Communications Commission to espouse net neutrality standards to keep the web world free and open in turn allowing everyone to access all kinds of websites and share their data as per their desires.
However, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer and the Chairman of the United States FCC has been advocating for putting a full stop to net neutrality and allow internet service providers to prioritise internet traffic as he thinks the present net neutrality rules suppress competition.
In his comments, Ajit Pai termed net neutrality as a “heavy-handed micromanagement” further stating that the decision to implement net neutrality rules in 2015 was a mistake: “This decision was a mistake. For one thing, there was no problem to solve. The Internet wasn’t broken in 2015. We weren’t living in a digital dystopia. To the contrary, the Internet is perhaps the one thing in American society we can all agree has been a stunning success.”
He thinks that “under Title II, investment in high-speed networks has declined by billions of dollars. Notably, this is the first time that such investment has declined outside of a recession in the Internet era. When there’s less investment, that means fewer next-generation networks are built. That means less competition. That means fewer jobs for Americans building those networks. And that means more Americans are left on the wrong side of the digital divide.” Note that in 2015 Title II gave the FCC the authority it required to stop companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from blocking, throttling or simply say interfering with the web traffic.
Ajit Pai then went on to bash websites for blocking content as per their needs by saying: “Edge providers regularly block content that they don’t like. They regularly decide what news, search results, and products you see—and perhaps more importantly, what you don’t. And many thrive on the business model of charging to place content in front of eyeballs. What else is ‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’ or promoted tweets but prioritization?” Despite all the criticism the vote has received, he ended his speech by confirming that “Americans will still be able to access the websites they want to visit. They will still be able to enjoy the services they want to enjoy.”
What Will Happen To The Internet After These New Rules Take Effect?
As we have already stated the basics of net neutrality, it is easy to crack that from now on companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast will have the luxury to decide which websites, apps and content succeeds. They can either slow down or completely block the content that they disagree with or even charge extra fees to allow users to access certain websites or applications.
For an example, Comcast owns NBCUniversal. This means that these new rules might motivate Comcast to prioritized streaming content of their media company over others. In such cases, small content producers who cannot afford to get their content prioritized will find it tough to get their content viewed at as much good quality as others. Therefore, this does not work out well for both consumers and small content creators.
When Will These New Rules Take Effect?
It might take a few weeks to finalize the new rules. Therefore, there won’t be any instantaneous changes. Moreover, the opposition parties who are against the decision will definitely go to the courts to overturn this decision. Hence, there’s nothing confirmed yet.
Why Is Net Neutrality So Important?
Net neutrality is crucial for various sectors including small businesses that rely on open internet to launch their product in the market. Open internet acts as a medium for them to market their product and reach out to customers worldwide. To put it in simple terms, net neutrality allows startups to grow faster with their innovative approach.
However, with the end of net neutrality, internet service providers might charge money to let users access certain websites. The previous example of Comcast and NBCUniversal is the best example to further show service providers might prioritise their content over others ultimately limiting the reach of small business to a large extent.
What Can People Do Now?
Know that only Congress has the power to reverse the FCC’s vote. Many opponents of the FCC’s decision have already started campaigns in order to appeal against this decision. A website named ‘savetheinternet.com’ has requested people to “urge their lawmakers to use a ‘resolution of disapproval’ to overturn the FCC’s decision to dismantle the Net Neutrality rules.”
It is quite obvious to think that the idea of internet service providers interfering with what people are reading or watching is going to significantly affect the masses. We think that internet should be free for everyone. What someone reads or watches is their decision and interfering with it is totally not fine.