The internet is one of the most—if not the most—powerful things to ever be invented. For many people in the world, the internet is a necessity in everyday life. Whether it is Youtube, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, media outlets etc., we use the internet all of the time. One thing that has made the internet so powerful is the accessibility of it. This is the basis of net neutrality, which is “the idea, principle, or requirement that Internet service providers (ISPs) should or must treat all Internet data as the same regardless of its kind, source, or destination” (Merriam Webster). It is the ability to access any site at any time without having to pay additional fees for faster internet speed. The governmental agency that regulates the internet is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The idea of repealing net neutrality rules first came up when Ajit Pai was appointed by President Trump as Chairman of the FCC. Ajit Pai is a registered Republican and prior to being appointed, was actually a lawyer for Verizon—one of the largest internet service providers in the nation. Since then, as Chairman of the FCC, he has been pushing for a repeal of net neutrality rules. The vote on whether to keep existing regulations in place or repeal them is set to occur on December 14.
Net neutrality serves to prevent internet companies from abusing their power by throttling internet speeds for consumers that do not pay additional fees, and from restricting access that they do not like, or just charging extra to access certain sites. Without net neutrality, internet service providers such as Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon will be free to manipulate the flow of internet traffic. They can make certain applications and websites faster or slower and even block certain content. Large internet-based companies such as Netflix and Spotify could see a dip in traffic on their websites because the repeal would make it cheaper for consumers to use an alternative supported by the ISPs. Startup companies that are based on the internet might also have difficulty gaining traffic for the same reason.
If the FCC repeals the regulations that guarantee a free and open internet, many people fear that the sites that the ISPs do not want you to visit will cost extra and run slower compared to their alternative. Internet usage might be sold like cable packages—you pay a monthly fee to get quicker access to more news outlets, streaming services, games, etc.
If net neutrality is actually repealed, it could have costly effects on the many companies that are at the mercy of the internet. Thousands of jobs might be lost as an effect of the decision.
Hopefully, the FCC will vote to keep net neutrality rules in place tomorrow.