Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.
Today numerous websites are joining in The Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality. This event is in protest to the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal which seeks to remove the current net neutrality protections put into place in 2015. These rules ensure that internet subscribers have access to all the services they need as well as allows smaller websites to compete against larger websites and companies.
Net neutrality rules are necessary to prevent the blocking of lawful content on the Internet and keeping the Internet open by preventing internet service providers from throttling down or blocking content.
Small publications (including the Collegian) may be hurt without net neutrality rules. Larger media companies could pay for preferential treatment from ISPs to deliver their content faster. ISPs could also decide to block content they don’t want on their network, including smaller websites. This would change the landscape of the internet and lead to smaller sites being pushed out for larger sites that can pay the extra money to earn special treatment.
Numerous companies including Amazon, Dropbox, and Reddit have joined in to protest the FCC’s proposal. Organizers have made battleforthenet.com as a gateway to information on the protest.
The current chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has drafted the proposal titled “Restoring Internet Freedom”, a truly Orwellian title for a proposal that does just the opposite. Pai has argued the current rules have stifled investment and hurt internet service providers.
On top of all this, internet service providers themselves have argued that the current regulations do not make sense because they were made for a market with little competition and not the “dynamic and cutting edge technology of our generation” described by Comcast in a blog post.
Calling the internet service market cutting edge may be true, but pretending that it is competitive is simply false. Comcast conveniently forgets that 10.6 million homes in the U.S. do not currently have access to 25 Mbps internet, the legal definition of broadband, while 46 million do not have access to more than one provider at this speed.
Perhaps most frustratingly, the FCC’s proposal demonstrates a disturbing lack of regard for the problems of the past. In 2012, before net neutrality was in place, AT&T blocked Apple’s FaceTime app over specific data plans, preventing FaceTime from even competing on the service. Comcast also began slowing down Netflix in 2014 until Netflix finally worked out a deal for better access.
These statements are dangerous and prey on apathy and misinformation to get across an agenda that is anti-consumer. The FCC and ISPs such as Comcast carefully craft their message calling net neutrality overbearing and unnecessary while ignoring the data behind their claims.
Luckily the FCC requires a public comment period where people can make their opinions known. The first comment period on the FCC’s website closes July 17th. There is still time to make a difference.
Joshua Kloehn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or online @jish_jash