The United States Federal Communications Commission announced its plan on Nov. 21 to stop regulations that ensure equal access to the internet. If implemented, this policy will not only harm individual web users, but also have widespread effects on the media industry.
Net neutrality is the idea of having an “open internet,” and “is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) should give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, without favoring some sources or blocking others,” according to USA Today.
Chairman of the FCC Ajit V. Pai challenged this concept, according to the FCC website. Pai has been advocating for a principle that would ultimately “allow internet providers to manipulate their offerings at the expense of consumers,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
This is concerning, for example, as the internet service in Portugal highlights the negative implications of web restrictions. Portugal lacks net neutrality and thus, users are forced to pay for certain services and apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Soundcloud, Gmail, iCloud, Skype and WhatsApp, according to the Los Angeles Times. This has caused internet bills to increase for citizens and has forced individuals who cannot afford it to cut services.
While the U.S. ISPs have tried to the public’s fears, the disastrous effects of this policy are clear.
Comcast promised consumers on Twitter that they would not “block” or “throttle” access to different websites. That being said, Comcast has also hinted that it might allow certain companies like Netflix or Facebook to pay fees for better service over smaller companies, according to Slate.
One of the many businesses that would benefit from the repeal of net neutrality is Verizon. In addition, Verizon has made no guarantees to its customers, only praising the potential repeal of net neutrality.
This policy clearly favors corporate interest over individual citizen’s rights, which is especially troublesome considering Verizon employed Pai previously, according to the FCC.
While the concept of net neutrality has taken a back burner to seemingly more important or newsworthy political debates, this cannot continue. An unregulated internet is beneficial to not only web users, but also smaller web providers, as it allows equal opportunity for use and profit.
Net neutrality needs to be taken seriously, as favoritism of large ISPs and the limitation of internet use cannot be tolerated. U.S. citizens must recognize the dangers of Pai’s plan before it is too late.