What Is It?
Although the term net neutrality is one that has only recently become known to the masses, net neutrality and the battle for an open internet has been around since the early 2000s. Net neutrality can best be described as the facilitation of an open and free internet for consumers through regulations that prohibit any internet service provider(ISP) from blocking or throttling internet connections.
The regulations put in place to protect the internet ensure that ISPs do not alter connection speeds to competitor websites, block websites, they consider offensive or sites they deem harmful to their image, charge consumers additional costs for access to certain websites or prioritize internet traffic of specific companies and websites which would leave consumers and small businesses with substantially slower speeds. Right now consumers and businesses, both small and big alike, share the same internet access rights and freedoms; however, through the dissolution of net neutrality, this could all change.
Explaining Recent Interests
Recent interest in the fight for an open internet became popular in early 2017 when the new commissioner, Ajit Pai, announced the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to roll back previously established regulations that were put in place to protect consumers from ISPs. Pai sought to do this by asking a D.C. circuit court to reverse the previous ruling upholding the past FCC’s regulations protecting the open internet. However, the D.C. district court ruled in favor of upholding the previously established regulation, but this didn’t keep Pai from moving forward with his intention of finding a way to undermine pro net neutrality regulations.
In response to Pai’s constant attempt to roll back on consumer protections, Americans responded worse than ever before and flooded the FCC website with comments against the dismantling of net neutrality. It seemed that more and more Americans were against Pai’s plan, and as knowledge of his intentions grew, so did the opposition, but it didn’t matter.
Even though there was an uproar against Pai, his plan proceeded as he called for a vote to determine whether or not to roll back net-neutrality regulation, and on Dec. 14, 2017, the FCC voted in favor of Pai’s plan.
The Bottom Line
The problem is simple. A decision as important as the future of the internet, which our society is built around, should not be left to the five members of a committee who were not democratically appointed. When the fate of a nation rests in the hands of people who are not representing the majority, there is a problem. Although the FCC has voted, the fate of the internet is not yet sealed.