Should students care about net neutrality?


Photo from: Political Abyss

Net neutrality is the idea that the internet has followed since its creation; equal access to all information. This has pretty much been the golden rule of the internet.

Net neutrality means that Internet Service Providers, ISP’s, can’t control what users look up or what sites get better loading speeds.

The argument of net neutrality came about when companies had different charge rates and processing speeds that varied depending on location. Eventually the term net neutrality was coined and the idea was pushed for until providers had to give in to the demands.

Net neutrality was further publicized by the media and population in 2005 when lobbyists both supporting and fighting it bombarded congress with their opinions on the matter.

Between 2005 and 2012 congress tried to pass five different bills to provide net neutrality, all of which failed to get passed until February 26, 2015, when the Federal Communications Commission, or the FCC, ruled in favor of net neutrality. Later on April 13, 2015, the FCC delivered its final rule on net neutrality regulations, which went into effect on June, 12 of the same year.

However, the recently appointed FCC chairman, Ajit Varadaraj Pai, is considering compromising net neutrality, which could allow providers to control what their customers can search for and when they can search things on the internet.

One of the many images trending about net neutrality.
Photo from: Pintrest

Pai argues that his policy would take the internet back to the way it was in the 1990’s, which would give greater freedoms to the providers. Pai’s plan would make internet suppliers tell users what they were doing, such as making some sites load slower or faster than others.

This would encourage site owners to pay providers for preferential treatment, which could have benefits and consequences.

One of the benefits might be that a company which provides health care would pay to give their customers priority traffic, which the provider would know because the customers accounts would be monitored remotely.

A consequence would be that certain outlets such as news sources or other ISP’s could charge money for access or faster traffic to their site, thus changing the way the entire population uses the internet.

The chairman’s proposal would shift the power of regulation over to the Federal Trade Commission, which would handle enforcement of net neutrality. Pai states, “The FCC would still require transparency: Any business practice that would affect the offering of a service has to be disclosed,” which would mean that providers have to share what they are doing.

Many advocates for net neutrality argue that this will allow providers to control the loading speeds of certain sites and even charge users to access them. Some people claim that if net neutrality is compromised, than the providers could take control of what users can see and search, which would give ISP’s the power to censor any media that the ISP deems “improper.”


Cartoon from: Political Abyss

Most people argue that this would have a catastrophic effect on the internet and would lead to the downfall of the sites owned by small business and everyday users. It’s argued that the act of repealing net neutrality would deprive internet users of a lot of their freedoms on the net, and would arguably deprive the internet of its freedom of speech.


Mozilla, the nonprofit corporation that makes the Firefox browser, states, “Our position is clear: the end of net neutrality would only benefit Internet Service Providers.” Mozilla also said that  all internet traffic must be treated equally with no discrimination between content or type of traffic.

Mozilla  added “[Freedom is] what has made [the internet] one of the greatest inventions of all time.”