As of last Monday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finally got their way with the web—after quite the lengthy battle, might I add. June 11 marked the end of free internet and the beginning of an unnecessary competition with the repeal of net neutrality taking affect.
Net neutrality provided a fair and necessary safety net to internet users as providers were prohibited—at the time—to charge higher prices for faster usage with certain content. This kept all webpages running at the same speed no matter its corporate owner or the services offered. As net neutrality is no longer in affect with the FCC’s ruling to repeal this concept, these guidelines do not exist anymore. In their place are ones such that are of opposite manner.
This repeal was first voted on in December, as public outbursts followed in response to the FCC’s action headed by FCC chairman Ajit Pai. Pai, as a vigilant member in opposition of net neutrality, claimed such set back necessary competition between corporate owners—specifically internet service providers—and that with net neutrality repealed and removed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would have the ability to regain its authority over these providers—as if free reign internet were inherently wrong. Pai claimed that through the repeal he was able to “reverse” the “mistake” of voting for net neutrality at its recent surface only years before.
With net neutrality now voted down by Pai and the others against free reign internet and rather in favor of unneeded, added competition, the internet will face a major change. While we are still only in the beginning phases of the internet’s transition from neutral to unequal, there is much that has the prospect to change. Such a foreseen change includes corporate owners either banding together or taking over others in order to create larger monopolies and conglomerates of internet service providers, which may lead to the franchise of “package” internet services such as like a cable channel package. This then has the prospect to feature a set price for only select services, such as Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, Yahoo, etc. in one package with another price for another package including other services. If corporate owners were to follow their now free reign of competition, nothing would (or will) be free to the average user.
Not only does net neutrality affect internet users home at night wanting to catch up with family states away via social media or the college student between classes wanting to research for a paper via any online search engine, it affects any and all businesses as well. At the focus of this are small businesses, as if (when) corporate internet businesses decide to increase their prices and/or create these bundle packages, this will set the bar entirely higher for these smaller, less well-known, and less wealthy businesses or freelancers; this forces these businesses to either face their competition or sell out. When these larger, corporate companies increase their prices it will create a “fast lane” for their provided services as their higher prices reflect the faster speed while smaller businesses’ lower prices reflect their slower speed left in a “slow lane.”
While the affects of this repeal are in transition, many states have taken preventative measures in providing bills to save net neutrality. The number sits at 29 states totaling with 65 bills ensuring the practice of net neutrality principles within their states at current.
This transition does not have to be the end of internet freedom, as every voice matters and can repeal the repeal in time; we will get our internet back. Pay attention to your changing services and speak up in opposition of Pai; this is a country where we all may live united and free, not restricted and controlled.