Net Neutrality is the premise that internet service providers (ISP’s) cannot do anything to limit, mess with or slow down a person’s internet access. Net Neutrality was first implemented in 2015 under President Obama. The goal of net neutrality was to encourage the open exchange of ideas and information over the internet. While making sure everyone has fair access to the Internet. Net Neutrality since then has been attacked and is now currently repealed due to FCC voting to repeal it in May of last year, and as of June 2018 Net neutrality no longer exists as a government program. Overall I think net neutrality should be reinstated for the protection of the internet access, equal opportunities to earn a living in an online world, and because large companies cannot be completely trusted to not make a monopoly or restrict access.
When Net Neutrality was first put into place the original rules forbade 3 specific things. Internet service providers were not allowed to first block “any lawful content by blocking websites or apps.” Second internet service providers were not to throttle or “slow down the transmission of data.” Third and finally they were not allowed to have paid prioritization. This meant that they could not have a “fast lane for companies and consumers who paid premiums, and a slow lane for those who didn’t.” However even while these rules were in place ISP’s still have violated those rules. This is something I will cover later on in more detail. So if internet service Providers have violated the rules before. Now that there are no rules who is to stop/punish ISP’s when they do it again and leave the consumer to suffer? This is one of the reasons that made people nervous when the FCC started to discuss and vote on repealing the Net Neutrally regulations.
In this increasingly modern age, the internet has become increasingly more prevalent in society as a whole. Nowadays there are people who make some to all of their entire living on the internet. Corporations and business can hold conference calls and meetings over the internet. Individuals like bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, and Twitch steamers just to name a few all use the internet for their job. However, when prices rise or their access is limited or their content is hidden because of internet service providers their livelihoods will suffer as a result and they have to eventually change their job if they cannot keep up with whatever costs there are to have their content present with everyone else’s. Larger Corporations or business will most likely be able to pay for extra speed or internet access while smaller business and individuals would suffer in the aftermath of such a decision. Personally, I use the internet for a lot of things: reading, gaming, communication, and schoolwork to name a few. If my internet access was restricted so I couldn’t go to any online gaming sites or my connection was throttled I would not be able to play any game fairly as I would be at a disadvantage as a laggier connection or higher ping would cause me to lose more often. Losing is not fun but can lead to a learning experience. However, when I am on a losing streak I can get frustrated with the game and stop playing for a long time. Because of bad connections in the past, I started playing more single player games or just stopped playing some games altogether for a while. If Net Neutrality never gets reinstated I hope that the internet service providers decide not to interfere with their customers and forcibly control their internet access.
In the past, larger companies have all agreed to raise their prices at the same time. Or one company had complete control over one type of commerce one of my concerns is that internet service providers will try to bundle or extort the customer for access to specific internet sites or types of sites. However, this is just a possible outcome that ISP’s might happen. There is a chance it might happen and there is a chance it might not. On the other hand, because Internet Service Providers would have to compete with one another it could also drive prices down as the ISP’s would try and drive costs down to seem or be more affordable than the others. This is another possible outcome of Net Neutrality being repealed.
One thing to consider is that internet service providers have broken what would be now present day (or is it former?) Net Neutrality laws. Now that Net Neutrality is gone as of June 2018, what is stopping them from breaking those same laws without any punishment? “In 2005, the nation’s largest ISP, Comcast, began secretly blocking peer-to-peer technologies that its customers were suing over its network.” Peer-to-peer technologies are applications or networks that allow you to share files with multiple computers or users/people. Things like Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud are considered file sharing services. It was not until 2007, two years later, that Comcast was revealed to be blocking those services. Now I used Google drive for school and I use iCloud for my Apple family’s Apple Music. Now imagine that for two years you wouldn’t be able to share music you purchased with the rest of your family. You could get around this by purchasing a cell plan but there is no guarantee that it would work. Another option is to buy another copy of the music you had already purchased. Now on top of that, you find that depending on your schools ISP that you can either access your documents at home but not at school or vice versa. Imagine how frustrating that would be and how much that could possible unnecessarily complicate your life. Now, how much money would you have spent to get around these problems only to find out it was the ISP’s fault all along and you spent that extra money when it could have gone to something else. Now internet service providers could block all sorts of websites or content not just file sharing applications.
Another example is the TELUS Corporation, which is Canada’s second largest internet service provider. TELUS in 2005 was responsible for blocking all access to a “server that hosted a website supporting a labor strike against the company.” Because they blocked the one website that was pro-labor striking. All of the other websites that were hosted on the same server were also blocked. One reason why this is alarming is that the employees of TELOS probably used TELOS internet. So when TELOS blocked that website and its corresponding server it effectively prevented the employees from expressing their freedom of speech. Imagine if the blocking was much worse. An ISP could effectively block websites that had any politics at all. Meaning if an ISP was ‘bought’ by a political party or chose to align with one they could block the opposing party’s content. The point here is that in a bad or worst case scenario people could be persuaded to join aside for an issue just because they were not able to find any information backing up the other side of whatever argument.
Even our phones would not be safe from internet service providers. Popular mobile carrier AT&T “forced Apple to block Skype and other Competing VOIP phone services on the iPhone” from 2007 to 2009. VOIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It basically means any app that can allow its user to talk long distances while connected to the internet. These apps coupled with a cell phone data plan would allow the user to use a cellular device without paying for a Talk/text plan. This probably made AT&T mad which is why they forced Apple to start blocking cellular access to these apps causing them to not work unless you were on an internet connection. If The ISP’s can control our home internet access and if they can strong-arm companies like Apple to block cellular connection to apps then they probably could strong arm Apple to block other things so that you can’t access them at home or on your cell phone. Also if any of the ISP’s decide to join together and block something it is very likely that no one except for a select few to be able to access that information. And if the embargo on those cites goes long enough they could go out of business.
Overall while the repealing of Net Neutrality can lead to some good things like increased innovation and healthy competition that would drive prices low. It can also cause major problems if the internet service providers decide to step out of line and cause problems like blocking servers or websites, controlling internet speeds, or taking advantage of their consumers and causing problems for people who use the internet in day to day life or for a living. Because with the FCC removing restrictions there is nothing really stopping them from making those decisions and ruining the internet.