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Net Neutrality

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Net Neutrality

Michelle Goh and Alan Chau

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Net neutrality, the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) need to provide equal access to all content regardless of source, had been enforced by the Obama administration in 2015. This means that by government regulation, ISPs cannot purposefully slow down or block access to certain websites; however, just about a week ago on Nov. 21, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced its plans to repeal net neutrality regulations on ISPs. FCC chief Ajit Pai, who was appointed to his role by President Donald Trump in January, states that the commission will vote to remove net neutrality rules on Dec. 14. “Today, I’m proposing to repeal the heavy-handed Internet regulations imposed by the Obama Administration and to return to the light-touch framework under which the Internet developed and thrived before 2015.”

There has been much debate on the FCC’s decision, boiling down to those who support net neutrality and those who do not.

 

Pro Net neutrality-Michelle Goh

 

With the pervasiveness of Internet and the development of a virtual world online, it becomes necessary for government regulation to protect the rights of netizens. One way that they can do this is to enable free and equal access to web content. The rescindment of net neutrality would only be detrimental to equality on the web because ISPs can charge more for better access to or more exposure on the Internet. In other words, ISPs can control Internet speeds, and unless a customer pays for better service, ISPs are not obligated to provide the highest quality of transmission. Small content providers would be hurt the most by these practices. Big corporations have the capabilities to purchase high quality services from ISPs, thus making their content easier to access for consumers. In a competitive capitalist society, this advantage would significantly benefit big content providers and hurt small content providers, who are not able to afford this exposure. They would be robbed of the chance to be known and to grow into more successful companies. Not only will startups die out, but the public may never experience the unique, and potentially life-changing, ideas or products that small startups can provide. Additionally, the First Amendment promises freedom of speech and press for everyone. It is the government’s job to protect these civil rights on the Internet. If net neutrality was repealed, the rich and powerful would have more access to and more exposure on the Internet, while the rest of the web would only have average or subpar Internet service quality. This would be indirect violation of the First Amendment, because those who pay premiums would have “more freedom of expression” than others who are inhibited by the financial motives of ISPs. For all of these reasons, the FCC should not repeal net neutrality regulations, thus maintaining a freer and more equal Internet for everyone.

 

Con Net Neutrality-Alan Chau

 

But times have changed. Today, Netflix and YouTube videos clog our pipes with enormous amounts of data. Consider the BitTorrent crowd, which uses our lines to download insane exabytes of software, movies and music—illegally. Or how about Google and Skype? They’ve created services that let people make phone calls—for free—on networks that we spent billions to build. Why shouldn’t all those services pay their share?

 

Net neutrality is stifling innovation! If we could charge higher fees to the biggest bandwidth hogs, we could afford to build advanced fiber networks that permit all kinds of new Internet services.

 

You call that a technicality? It was the FCC itself that originally classified us Internet providers as an “information service,” which isn’t susceptible to much regulation, instead of a “telecommunications service,” which is. It’s the FCC’s fault.

About the Writers
Michelle Goh, Editor-in-Chief

Michelle Goh is one of Guide Post Online’s Editor-in-Chiefs. She is extremely passionate about computer science and physics. Michelle is the president...

Alan Chau, Editor-in-Chief

Alan Chau is one of Guide Post’s Editor-in-Chiefs. He is an avid writer and political activist, with strong passions in creative writing, literature...

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