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Net Neutrality is key to a free Internet

T. Opinion

Kirk Mattu/The Telescope

Net neutrality is a relatively new concept in relationship with its subject matter, the Internet, however its corresponding principles are not.

Net neutrality, or an open Internet basically means keeping web traffic equal no matter the data content. This means the data speeds your experience when loading content from websites or the transferring of data through video files, documents, etc. are unhindered by the attempts of Internet service providers (ISP’s).

Hindrances on the ISP’s part can mean anything from blocking certain content or services, manipulation of the data, or requesting fees for speedier load times.

These hindrances block consumers from accessing content by the possibility of ISP’s blocking content based off of their own discretion. Thus, prohibiting consumers from their First Amendment right through the censorship that the ISP’s deem necessary.

The Internet has grown up alongside many of us and we have seen the leaps and bounds it has gone through from AOL dialup to seamless transitions that we have today.

Keeping an open Internet, like it is today, is extremely important to maintain not only for our own generation but those after us to reap the benefits of freedom of voice, choice, privacy on the web and the ability to create and innovate.

Giving in to telecom providers and creating toll roads and “pay to play” only takes away from those freedoms and results in inequality on the web and controls what we can do and see on it.

The governmental body responsible for the regulation of the Internet, and interstate communication as a whole, is the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).

The FCC was established through the Communications Act of 1934. It wasn’t until over 60 years later when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 when the regulation of the Internet was incorporated into the FCC’s oversight. The original intent of the commission was to provide communication services at reasonable charges to the people of the United States without discrimination.

ISP’s have been relatively compliant to net neutrality standards set forth by the FCC until a case was brought up against Comcast, one of the nations largest providers of broadband, for impeding the access of consumers to content of their choice and the use of applications and services of their choice. The result of this case resulted in the FCC creating the Open Internet Order of 2010.

The order was an expansion on the previous four principles established for an “open internet” five years prior. These principles consisted of the consumers right to choose the content they wish to access and to be able to choose their network, content, application and service providers.

Consumers should also be able to connect to their choice of device and be allowed to run applications and services of their choosing.

What the Open Internet Order expanded on were the consumers right to transparency in regards to broadband providers practices and commercial terms and conditions.

Broadband providers were also prohibited from blocking content and in the discrimination of transmission of network traffic over a consumer’s broadband service.

The establishment of this order protected consumers and companies from experiencing charges for providing content and establishing that web traffic would be treated the same across data platforms.

Without these regulations ISP’s would be able to create “toll roads” or “fast lanes,” where companies would essentially bid for preferential services when providing content.

Companies like Google and Netflix would have to pay higher tolls to provide content and services due to the large amounts of data their services require while consumers who don’t have the monetary freedom to receive faster data speeds would be restricted to reduced speeds to the likes of dial-up.

These fees would also stifle the growth of small businesses and start-ups from delivering content to Internet users. We’ve seen many start-ups become influential business over the years like Google, Netflix, Amazon and Kickstarter.

If these tolls were enacted during their earlier years, they would never have the funds to get off the ground and provide the content and services they do today.

Its’ important to keep an “open internet” to maintain innovation within this sphere.

Limitation through totals will also limit the capabilities to expand and developer better services on the broadband that ISP’s are providing.

Without open Internet, services will degrade due to developers’ inability to afford to create services on them due to the risk of no returns or benefits.

A ruling in January in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. circuit overturned the FCC order in Verizon v. FCC, thus diminishing the power the FCC had to regulate broadband providers.

Due to the outcomes of the case the FCC has now decided to create new regulations on broadband Internet providers. These new regulations will result in major changes on how we as consumers will be able to receive and transfer content through a medium that many have used on a daily basis.

Luckily, the FCC has created a period of time where consumers can provide their thoughts on how the FCC should move forward with net neutrality through their official government website.
To date the FCC has more than 3 million comments filed on the topic. It’s been made clear that the public not only has a huge opinion on the matter but also a broad view of paths forand against net neutrality. An open internet is a free internet, let’s keep it that way.

 

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Net Neutrality is key to a free Internet