Net Neutrality: An Ongoing Battle


Izzy McKinney, Editor

A term that has gained traction lately, yet still remains relatively in the dark, is net neutrality. Net neutrality is a term used to describe a free and open internet, so that internet providers, like AT&T and Verizon, cannot slow the internet for some websites and speed it up to others. It ensures that all websites and services are treated fairly on the internet, which is important for smaller websites and companies. Lately this idea has come under attack from the Trump Administration and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman has made his plans of removing net neutrality clear.

Under net neutrality, internet service providers cannot control the websites’ speed or prioritize some sites over others. For example, Verizon might slow down Netflix streaming speeds unless Netflix were to pay more for faster service. Many people think that this is an important part of a free and open internet, though others say that the regulations are suffocating for companies and that repealing net neutrality will prevent the government from micromanaging the internet.

Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman, announced his intentions to remove net neutrality regulations, a move that had been applauded by internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon. Since his announcement, Pai has received criticism from pro-net neutrality lobbyists. According to the Washington Post, signs have been planted in his yard that were targeted towards his children reading, “‘They will come to know the truth. Dad murdered Democracy in cold blood.'”

According to the Washington Post, “under Pai’s plan, those [regulatory] rules would be stripped, granting Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers see and use… Internet companies and activists see the undoing of net neutrality as an invitation for corporate abuse, in which service providers block websites they do not like and charge Web companies for speedier delivery of their content.”

Many tech companies have penned a letter to the FCC in support of net neutrality that was released on Cyber Monday. Among those who have signed the letter are Twitter, Airbnb, Reddit and Vimeo. They cited the growth of e-commerce and said, “‘our current net neutrality rules support innovation and give all businesses the opportunity to compete equally for consumers. With strong net neutrality protections, the internet is an open marketplace where any business can compete, allowing individuals to start companies easily.'”

Pai’s proposed plan is up for voting on December 14th, and many predict it is likely to pass due to the Republican majority. The Hill said, “The plan will remove key net neutrality provisions like stopping internet service providers from throttling some websites, and also strip the FCC of its ability to regulate such service providers”

Monday’s letter warned, “Without these rules, internet service providers will be able to favor certain websites and e-businesses,” and said that repealing net neutrality will prevent new and small businesses from gaining more customers.