When you go online you have certain expectations. You expect to be connected to whatever website you want. You expect that your cable or phone company isn’t messing with the data and is connecting you to all websites, applications and content you choose. You expect to be in control of your internet experience.
When you use the Internet you expect Net Neutrality.
Net Neutrality is the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use. Net Neutrality is the way that the internet has always worked.
In 2015, millions of activists pressured the Federal Communications Commission to adopt historic Net Neutrality rules that keep the internet free and open — allowing people to share and access information of their choosing without interference.
But right now, the internet is in peril. On Dec. 14, 2017, the FCC’s Republican majority approved Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to gut the Net Neutrality protections.
WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY?
Net neutrality is a principle that believes the internet should be equally accessible to all users. The original terminology, created in 2002, stated that internet service providers (ISPs) should be allowed to charge based upon bandwidth usage, but could not limit user access to any content.
The Federal Trade Commission (FCC) agreed with net neutrality and reworked the principle into policy. However, major service providers like Comcast and Verizon successfully challenged these policies in 2008 and 2014 court cases. The FCC realized it needed to change the policy to stand up in the court of law. It did this in 2015 by reclassifying the internet as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act. Establishing authority under Title II means the internet would be treated as a utility, like electricity or telephones.
The 2015 rules allow the FCC to effectively enforce net neutrality among internet providers. But now FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, wants to dismantle these rules. (It’s worth mentioning that Pai previously worked for telecommunication giant, Verizon, as part of their legal team) If the rules were dismantled, there would be no regulation to prevent providers like Comcast and Verizon from limiting your access to the internet.
The main two scenarios that could happen if net neutrality rules are dismantled are 1) website delivery speed adjustments and 2) extra charges for access to specific content.
1) Website A is a larger business and pays Comcast to keep their website speed above a certain threshold. Website B is a small business and can’t afford to pay Comcast. Their website speed is slowed down, resulting in less traffic and less revenue.
2) Comcast sells internet content in tiers to its customers. The base price includes access to website A because website A has paid Comcast to include them in the first tier. Website B can’t afford to pay Comcast to increase its access level. They are only available to a user if they pay to upgrade to tier 3 of their internet service, which many users cannot afford to do.
Neither scenario fares well for small businesses or free speech on the internet.
Stayed tuned for more about Net Neutrality and 5 reasons why we ALL should care About Net Neutrality.