Net Neutrality-The Orlando Times
GOP Attempts To Speed Up Accomplishments By Slowing Down Internet
BY DEVIN HEFLIN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
The GOP, hailing off their almost victory in syncopating both the House and Senate tax plans, hopes to secure another victory in a sector which most affects the manner in which a growing number of Americans conduct commerce, receive transactions and communicate with colleagues, the Internet.
Federal regulators, coalition with GOP leaders voted last Thursday to allow Internet providers to speed up service for websites they favor — and block or slow down others — in a decision repealing landmark Obama-era regulations overseeing broadband companies such as AT&T and Verizon.
The move by the Federal Communications Commission to deregulate the telecom and cable industries was a prominent example of the policy shifts taking place in Washington under President Trump and a major setback for consumer groups, tech companies and Democrats who’d railed against the decision.
The 3-2 vote, which was along party lines, enabled the FCC’s Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, to follow through on his promise to repeal the government’s 2015 net neutrality rules, which required Internet providers to treat all websites, large and small, equally. The agency also rejected some of its own authority over the broadband industry in a bid to stymie future FCC officials who might seek to reverse the Republican-led ruling.
Net Neutrality has waded into the debate over user friendly content, free speech and hinges on the tenets expressed in the Freedom of Information Act.
Under the 2015 Net Neutrality stipulations, internet service providers are required to treat all online content the same. They can't deliberately speed up or slow down traffic from specific websites or apps, nor can they put their own content at an advantage over rivals.
Current Pros and Cons of Net Neutrality
-It creates an equal playing field.
With net neutrality in place, internet service providers have little say on what passes through the mechanisms that are used by customers to access the internet.
-It protects innovation.
Although there are companies which have made billions of dollars because of their access to the internet, they were able to get started on the same footing.
-It provides everyone with a freedom of expression.
Blogs, services, businesses, and any website that can operate legally is able to do so and be available because of net neutrality.
-Illegal activities are still monitored.
Questionable content can be found on the internet if you’re willing to look for it – and sometimes even when you’re not looking for it.
-It would classify internet service providers as a utility provider.
Public utilities have a role to play in our lives. They provide services that we use every day to maintain our quality of life.
-Enormous amounts of data are consumed without compensation.
When the internet was first brought to the public, the idea of having a streaming service was unfathomable to many.
-Reduced income from internet uses limits infrastructure improvements.
There are certain businesses and high-use individuals who consume large amounts of bandwidth every month.
-Priorities could be assigned by the ISP.
Let’s take Comcast as an example here. There are numerous online streaming services that offer live TV today: Hulu, PlayStation Vue, and Sling by Dish Network are just three examples.
-Questionable content thrives in net neutrality.
Content that some may find to be offensive is readily available to anyone because of net neutrality.
-Free internet access would likely go away.
When the internet becomes a place where profitability is the primary concern, the idea of providing free internet access to those who cannot afford it goes away.
-Charging companies more just means services will cost more.
Some advocates of stopping net neutrality suggest that an ISP could charge a company who consumes or provides a lot of content more and this could lead to free access to certain sites.
-More regulations would create slower access.
Let’s use the US Government as an example here. When the government was originally created in the 18th century, the goal was to create an entity that was inefficient and slow. The founders of the US felt that the greatest danger to the people of their new country was having a government in place that could move too fast. By slowing everything down, people could protect themselves.
-Public utilities have plenty of problems that many just overlook.
Many utilities face a slowing consumer base, so they raise prices to compensate. That eventually means everyone pays more for the same service without any innovation.
Nineteen states and state leaders have declared they will file lawsuits against the FCC for their new ruling: New York, Washington State, California, Oregon, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, to name those have publicly come out in favor a suit.
The FCC is doing away with rules barring internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to online content. The FCC would also eliminate a rule barring providers from prioritizing their own content.
In the absence of a firm ban on these actions, providers will be required to publicly disclose any instance of blocking, throttling or paid prioritization. It will then be evaluated based on whether or not the activity is anti-competitive.
Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman appointed by President Trump, has framed the repeal as getting the government to "stop micromanaging the internet."
The move is supported by the telecom industry, which claims existing regulations threaten to hamper broadband investments and innovation.
“Once again the FCC is trying to wedge an expansive government into more corners of the free market, this time through unnecessary and heavy-handed regulations on the Internet. What FCC Chairman Wheeler is proposing threatens to restrict Internet growth, increase costs on users, and inevitably stifle the economic opportunity that the Internet currently provides.” Said Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
“This policy also ignores the significant litigation vulnerabilities that could arise from reclassification, which creates greater uncertainty and jeopardizes critical investments in broadband. Instead of the FCC forcing this significant policy change on the American people, Congress should work to update outdated laws from a bygone era in order to provide clarity on the FCC’s role in the modern communications landscape.”
Evidence exists that 2018 may be a year to reverse this current net neutrality order, as Democratic opponents are predicted to take longtime GOP seats, lawsuits from states with local Internet providers are also expected.
“Congress needs to fix the mess the FCC has now created with a lasting solution that will fully protect consumers and preserve the FCC’s authority," Nelson said in a statement. "Securing these protections will be difficult and won’t happen quickly given the current political climate in Congress. But, for the sake of consumers, we have to continue to try.” Said Senator Bill Nelson.