The rumor mill has started; net neutrality might soon be reinstated. However, this rumor isn’t completely made up out of nowhere. President Biden named the permanent chair of the Federal Communications Commission last year and has named another nominee. This will give the democrats the majority in the FCC which if voting on party lines, will be required to reinstate the FCC.
What Is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality was a set of rules enforced by the Federal Communications Commision that required all internet service providers to treat all websites with legal content equally without bias. This meant they couldn’t give customers who could afford it preferential treatment. Internet providers couldn’t do the following:
- Block websites with legal content: Internet providers could not pick and choose what sites their customers could access or not access as long as the content was legal.
- Throttle internet speeds based on the content as long as it was legal: Internet providers couldn’t just throttle your internet speeds because they didn’t like what you were looking at, as long as what you were looking at was legal.
- Create fast lanes for those you pay up: Internet providers couldn’t practice paid prioritization where those who paid extra could access faster speeds while providing a slower lane for customers who don’t. Essentially allowing those who can afford to pay more to always skip to the front of the line while surfing the web.
Net Neutrality Was Repealed In 2018; Only After 3 Years
The FCC voted to repeal its own net neutrality rules in an act to deregulate the internet. The 3-2 vote reverted classification of the internet back to an information service which makes internet providers face fewer rules and obligations of those considered a telecom service. While the internet didn’t change overnight like some experts dramatically eluded to at the time, the ramifications are predicted to be snuck in slowly over a few years.
The Internet Without Net Neutrality
The internet as we know it can turn into a scary place without net neutrality. Net neutrality had protections and rules in place to make all online content equally accessible to everyone regardless of what they can afford. Experts fear that the internet can turn into the wild wild west with increased monthly costs, more added fees and bad service; much like what the TV industry is known for now. These increased costs and worse service will only further increase the digital divide; a problem the FCC has been trying to close the gap on for years.
High Speed Broadband Internet Is A Necessity
High-speed broadband internet is no longer a luxury service; it is a necessary utility that everyone should have access to. We need it for basic life necessities like paying bills, applying for jobs, education, keeping in touch with family, doctors appointments and many more. If these reasons aren’t enough for you, there have been multiple studies published that have shown there’s a strong positive correlation between high-speed internet access and economic growth and opportunity.
Net Neutrality Should Be Reinstated
Before too much damage is done, net neutrality should be reinstated. The internet should be open and not up to for profit corporations to determine who can pay more for access to the whole internet at reasonable speeds. As it is too many households nationwide go without high-speed broadband internet because the cost far exceeds their income.