Ajit Pai, president Donald Trump’s Federal Communication Commission [FCC] chairman, has proposed to destroy Net Neutrality [NN].The previous president of the United States, Barack Obama, was an avid supporter of NN when he was in office. On Dec. 14 the FCC voted on whether to pass the bill to repeal the regulations that NN has put into place from the previous administration. NN is where Internet service providers [ISP] like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Comcast, and Xfinity are unable to speed up, slow down, or block content or applications that one may want to use. The purpose of NN is to protect the right that allows users to freely communicate online.
In 2015 millions of people advocated to the FCC to adopt NN to keep the Internet free and open. When Pai proposed to destroy NN, millions of people were outraged by this plan and are pushing the FCC to consider preserving NN. Cable and phone companies would have the ability to create fast and slow lanes for companies they favor or dislike. Companies would be able to block their competitor’s ads because they disagree with them or charge additional fees to use certain website and push their own political agenda by censoring certain people they do not like, or they can choose which voices they want to have be heard across the United States.
“I think looking at who does not want it to pass shows the people want to concentrate that power and wealth to a select number of people,” Warren Trotter, a math teacher at South, said.
Companies are also able to choose which institutions or networks will have a faster load time than others, this is called data prioritizing. Small business owners may not be able to afford data prioritizing because it can become expensive and the business owners may not have the funds to pay for it. Data prioritizing can cause small business owners their connection to their intended online audience which may be their primary source of communication. If they go back to traditional advertising, like local television channels, it may not create the same amount of publicity that it used to do in the past.
“When money becomes involved in the accessibility of knowledge, we lose the ability to trust the information around us. The rich and privileged gain at the expense of the majority and at the expense of our collective future, Sorcha O’Connor ‘18 said.
ISP could potentially increase their Internet service rates and reduce the rate they can provide network upgrades if the bill passes. Internet providers have threaten to sue to have the rules overturned if the bill passes. Broadband companies support Pai in his proposal of restructuring the regulations under NN stating that the current system is heavy-handed and it has damaged investments. Pai wants to return to the light touch regime that was enacted in the previous administrations including Democrat Bill Clinton. Some people are worried that with the repeal of NN, would violate their right to communicate freely online and to do what they want on the Internet.
On Dec. 14 the FCC has decided to repeal NN with a three to two majority.