January 2, 2018

Net Neutrality: Part Two

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29.12.2017, by Frederique de Roos

In the first article of this series, called Net Neutrality: Part One, I explained the term of net neutrality. How will our future look like regarding this challenging topic?

How did it Protect American Citizens?

Net Neutrality meant that network service providers weren’t allowed to discriminate against certain types of content that you are accessing. Streaming a film on Netflix was treated the same as receiving emails in your mailbox.

It also meant that providers couldn’t slow down certain websites if they didn’t agree with the content, or if it competes with any of their products.

It prevented big companies from paying Internet Service Providers for ‘faster service’, therefore preventing them from getting ahead and subsequently slowing down organisations that didn’t comply.

Tim Berners-Lee, the creator the world-wide-web itself had this to say on the subject:

When I invented the web, I didn’t have to ask anyone for permission, and neither did America’s successful internet entrepreneurs when they started their businesses. To reach its full potential, the internet must remain a permissionless space for creativity, innovation and free expression. In today’s world, companies can’t operate without internet, and access to it is controlled by just a few providers. The FCC’s announcements today suggest they want to step back and allow concentrated market players to pick winners and losers online. Their talk is all about getting more people connected, but what is the point if your ISP only lets you watch the movies they choose, just like the old days of cable?”

So why was Title II Reversed?

Ajit Pai, the current chairman of the FCC, and the spearhead of the campaign against Title II, has provided multiple statements on why he thinks reversing Title II is in the best interest of the American people;

It will bring high-speed Internet access to more Americans.” – Without regulations from the government small internet providers could have a better chance in competing with established companies. This could potentially provide access to the internet in smaller, remote communities where big Internet Service Providers (ISPs) won’t cater.

It will create jobs” – If these small internet providers get the opportunity to expand, there could be a surge of jobs; connecting utility poles, laying fiber, and it could give start-up companies in rural areas better opportunities to grow.

It will boost competition” – Smaller ISPs could have better opportunities to compete with bigger ones.

It’s the best path toward protecting Americans’ online privacy” – Repealing Title II could make it easier for the Federal Trade Commission to regulate broadband providers’ privacy and data security practices.

Read Ajit Pai’s statement on the topic here.

The Future

There has been a significant backlash on the topic of Net Neutrality with news coverage on the topic from all over the world. It has released strong reactions from both sides of the fight.This might seem strange, since it concerns a law that’s not even two years old, but it’s important to everyone in America just the same.

People tend to forget that as recent as 1995, only 0.04 percent of the world’s population had access to the internet. To this day, it’s in its fledgeling stage.

Changes like the reversal of Title II will have consequences that we won’t see until years later down the line, but it will have consequences. Either for the people who will be able to use the internet for the first time, or for the people who will lose access to certain sites and information. This is something we will find out in the future. 

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