Repealing Net Neutrality

Repealing Net Neutrality

Matt Warner, Writer

On November 22, 2017, FCC commissioner Ajit Pai gave a proposal to remove net neutrality, a set of internet rules put in place during Barack Obama’s presidency, which gave an assurance of a free and equal internet. What the FCC would like to do is let broadband companies slow down, speed up, or disable access to specific sites under a certain internet plan. If the FCC wins the repeal, internet service providers will be given broad powers regarding what sites individuals can and cannot access without acquiring service plan, just like with cable TV.


Net Neutrality in The Past

Net neutrality was a term coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003. He described it as common carrier, meaning the internet should be free from control of cable companies and the like. In 2004, a number of companies were fined, including AT&T, after they were caught slowing down the communication app FaceTime, unless the user purchased one of their data plans. Recently Verizon was also accused of throttling (limits the user’s upload and download speeds, especially on  videos) after users noticed that videos streamed, and played on Netflix and Youtube were slower than usual, though Verizon claimed they were conducting “network testing”. This has all been a string of events leading up to the debate of whether to keep the internet just the way it is or outsource the internet to phone companies and the like.


Why does the FCC want to repeal it?

Capitalism, and it deters the chance to earn money. Ajit Pai stated that net neutrality in his eyes discourages investment and leaves customers with fewer, and less robust, choices for internet service, and it also widens the digital divide.


Title II, the bill that holds net neutrality, costs 35 billion dollars in lost investment in broadband. The FCC wants to let ISPs (internet service providers) like Verizon have control over what people can see, and in turn put more money in the pockets of those ISP’s.


In turn it may also be based on who is in power in the White House currently. Donald Trump is a Republican, so is the FCC commissioner, Ajit Pai, as well as 2 other FCC committee members, Michael O’Reilly and Brendan Carr. Meaning that,  it is a 3-2 majority with the 3 Republicans in favor. Conflicts of interest that are important to note in this situation, AJit Pai, the chair of the FCC, was a Verizon attorney, which means that he is lobbying for ISPs and phone providers to make them have all the power over the internet.  


What will this do for your internet?

Under the current net neutrality rules, ISP’s cannot slow down or speed up internet websites as they see fit, which means they could stop Youtube videos from loading or completely block Netflix or other streaming websites because of the plan.


Along with that it currently prevents ISP’s role as “gatekeepers”. They will give the option to purchase a package to speed up the internet and give you access to the sites that they are blocking or slowing down.


Recently in Portugal, they removed net neutrality and it has turned into a snowball effect. The country’s wireless carrier Meo, has plans to pay for traditional data of course, but they also have data plans that can give you websites and access to other websites and apps. Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California, tweeted  about Portugal’s dilemma: “In Portugal, with no net neutrality, internet providers are starting to split the net into packages,” he wrote. “A huge advantage for entrenched companies, but it totally ices out startups trying to get in front of people which stifles innovation. This is what’s at stake, and that’s why we have to save net neutrality.” Technically speaking Portugal is bound by the EU’s net neutrality rules, but what helps them is the amount of loopholes that it has. If Portugal isn’t any indication of how repealing net neutrality is a bad idea, I don’t know what is.


Will it Work?

Probably Not. Originally it may pass, mainly due to the Republicans on the FCC committee will get the majority vote. After sometime though, and everyone lets it sink in, it will eventually be repealed due to the facts of our lives now being tied so tightly to the internet.


For small businesses, no net neutrality cripples them because they can’t get out in front of the big companies nor can they advertise.The average person doesn’t benefit either because any website that is accessed now could be throttled because your provider doesn’t like the site’s “politics” or it makes them look bad.


Oakdale senior Patrick McFarland, when asked about the repeal of net neutrality stated, “I think it’s a bad idea. It will make the internet a terrible place to be. I use it everyday in all of my classes, and I really don’t want to have to pay for better internet along with better data plans”.


Look at it this way, the FCC is making the internet like a highway with toll roads. People who have EZ-Pass get into the express lane and don’t have to wait at a toll booth. Everybody else, the people without an EZ-Pass, has to wait and pay to get through. They are shifting the internet from an open road to a public highway.


If you want to save net neutrality, the vote is planned for December 12th. Go vote in favor of it and keep your internet free. You can go here to sign the petition in favor as well: