In 2015, the Obama administration passed the Open Internet Order -- better known as net neutrality. You're probably aware that the FCC voted to repeal the Obama-era order last Thursday. But what is net neutrality? It ensures that big internet providers like Verizon and AT&T would not be able to control what the public can and cannot access via the internet. Now, that has all changed.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released a video on Wednesday telling viewers that the repeal of net neutrality will not affect us. It was actually quite insulting. He limited our use of the internet (and our brains) to menial things: animal videos and selfies. He did state that we will still be able to shop online, however, which is good for companies with online stores. But having access to the internet was never in question.
Effects of Net Neutrality
The general public never feared the possibility of being denied access to the internet. The general public feared two things in particular: 1.websites could charge extra fees and 2. big corporations like Verizon and AT&T could monopolize the web.
Given the repeal of net neutrality, certain sites could charge access fees. Instagram, could cost extra, negatively affecting online use for start-ups and artists. Even accessing search engines like Google would cost. Don't be too alarmed. Just because these companies have the ability to charge extra fees does not mean that they will. But who wants to live with that possibility looming overhead?
Big internet providers are in full support of repealing net neutrality because it would give them control over the internet. Without the FCC regulation, big corporations would be able to control the speed of other websites. For example, Verizon could grant users lightning fast speed when accessing certain sites. Conversely, they could decrease the internet speed when users attempted to access other sites.
So, the issue is not that we won't have access to the internet, it's that the access could be limited. If we are unable to access online news outlets without paying and/or by having to endure slow-speed internet, then we will be kept in the dark on many issues. Without knowledge of certain issues that will arise in the future, we will be rendered powerless and at the mercy of government's control.
The majority of internet users are adamantly against net neutrality. In a Washington Post article, Why Ajit Pai is wrong about net neutrality, writer Michael J. Socolow outlines a brief but detailed history of the FCC's involvement in terms of regulating industry competition. Socolow uses the radio and broadcast industry to support his example.
In a Fox News article, Ending net neutrality will save the internet, not destroy it, however, writer Jesse Hathaway writes that President Obama implemented net neutrality with no basis for necessity. Like questioning the validity of the Lybian slave trade, there are two opinions surrounding net neutrality. Read more on this while you still can.