Federal Communications Commission Plans to Repeal Net Neutrality


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Zachary Johnson, Writer

Since 1996, all data has been treated the same, no matter where the data comes from. That still holds true today. Everything from Instagram to YouTube to Ancestry.com is given the same speed and availability, and the only way that can be changed is if you decide to increase the speed from your internet service provider (ISP). Right now, no website is prioritized over another. That could change very soon, as the FCC has introduced a plan to repeal net neutrality. If repealed, ISPs could treat data differently, giving preferential treatment to certain companies. For instance, in a world without net neutrality, AT&T could charge companies like Instagram or Facebook to ensure that their data is delivered at high speeds, only to then charge the consumer for high-speed access to those certain websites. If ISPs are allowed to charge other companies for preferential data treatment, then, theoretically, those companies could use that preferential treatment to prevent new startups from competing since they would not be able to pay for the preferential data speeds. Let’s say there’s a new social media service similar to Facebook. Right now, that new service and Facebook are required to be treated the same by ISPs by law. In a world without net neutrality, Facebook could pay an ISP to have delivery speeds far faster than those of the fledgling competitor, making it hard for that competitor to compete.

The plan was written by Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, who first started in the FCC back in 2007, and was later unanimously approved to be the commissioner of the FCC in 2012 after being appointed by President Obama. After his four year term as commissioner, he was appointed by President Donald Trump as chairman of the FCC. Since then, he has worked hard to repeal net neutrality.

According to his FCC biography, “Chairman Pai’s regulatory philosophy is informed by a few simple principles. Rules that reflect these principles will result in more innovation, more investment, better products and services, lower prices, more job creation, and faster economic growth. Consumers benefit most from competition, not preemptive regulation. Free markets have delivered more value to American consumers than highly regulated ones.”

Devin Weese, a member of a CyberPatriot team said, “I believe net neutrality is a pretty bad thing. The socialization of the internet is the last thing we should want. Advocates for net neutrality offer a common solution to avoid corporate dominance – everyone should get the same amount of bits per second no matter the ISP. However, that’s bad for economic growth, first of all, because it stifles any innovation that companies are willing to research and develop since they won’t be making any money from it and we won’t see any improvements in that field. I also believe that if someone has the capacity to pay for something of a higher quality then they should be able to. Thirdly, I think that most people worry about corporations gouging prices. That won’t happen if the consumer simply votes with their dollar.” One of the biggest concerns of opponents of net neutrality is the government’s current regulations on ISPs, believing that the free market would be a much better regulator than any governing body.

Payton Gloschat, another member of a CyberPatriot team commented, “I think net neutrality is good because it allows for an open internet that isn’t controlled by major corporations. The internet is classified as a Title II regulation under the Telecommunications Act of 1934, which prevents corporations from making any ‘unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services.’ Without that, corporations will take advantage of customers and purposefully throttle their internet whenever the corporation sees fit.”

Companies and consumers alike have banded together to fight for net neutrality. Battleforthenet.com, an advocacy website for net neutrality, has a list of 232 companies who participated in the July 12th Day of Action for net neutrality, which aimed to spread awareness for the cause. This included websites like Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, DeviantArt, the ACLU, Netflix, Kickstarter, and many others. According to Battleforthenet.com, more than 428,000 calls have been made from their supporters to congressmen, and about 220,000 of those being in the last week.

The vote on the repeal is currently slated for December 14th.