Net neutrality and its future
The internet has become so much a part of the lives of most people around the world that it's easy to imagine that it will always remain the free and open medium it's now. We all would like to believe that it will remain a place where you can always access any lawful content you want, and where the folks delivering that content can't play favorites because they disagree with the message being delivered or want to charge more money for faster delivery.
Net neutrality regulations may be referred to as "common carrier" regulations. Net neutrality does not block all abilities that Internet service providers have to impact their customers' services. Opt-in/opt-out services exist on the end user side, and filtering can be done on a local basis, as in the filtration of sensitive material for minors.
Net neutrality also called as Network neutrality, is the principle that Internet service providers should treat all transmission of data over the Internet equally and not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, platform, application, type of equipment, or method of communication. When net neutrality is required, Internet service providers (ISPs) may not intentionally block, slow down, or charge money for specific online content. Conversely, without net neutrality regulations, ISPs may prioritize certain types of traffic, meter others, or potentially block traffic from specific services, while charging consumers for various tiers of service.
The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003, as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier, which was used to describe the role of telephone systems.
Proponents of net neutrality, which broadly include computer science experts, consumer advocates, a human rights organization, and Internet content providers claim that net neutrality helps to provide freedom of information exchange, promotes competition and innovation for Internet services and upholds standardization of Internet data transmission which was essential for its growth. Net neutrality is administered on a national or regional basis, though much of the world's focus has been on the conflict over net neutrality in the United States.
The Federal Communications Commission voted in December 2017 to implement Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to end net neutrality. The fight now shifts to Congress, where pro-network neutrality members will press to use something called the Congressional Review Act to undo this hasty and misguided action.
Pros 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 provides everyone with freedom of expression.
It protects innovation. Big companies still have the same access as SMBs or freelancers and this allows everyone to earn a comfortable living or offer information in a way that best suits them.
The goal of net neutrality is to provide every person with an experience that is optimal. This means illegal activities are still prevented, including illegal file sharing, due to the fact that each ISP would be treated as a regulated common carrier.
It would classify internet service providers as a utility provider. Previously, ISPs were like utility providers. Users were be charged a standard rate for the type of internet bandwidth they subscribed for. This meant that everyone had to pay the least amount, even if their usage was heavy.
After years of struggling with what the federal government’s role should be in regulating the “free internet,” the FCC voted to enforce net neutrality rules under Title II of the Communications Act. Under the new Rules, major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast are prohibited from slowing down applications or services, accepting fees for preferential treatment or blocking lawful content. In a nutshell, the rules place ISPs under the same strict regulatory framework that governs telecommunication networks to ensure that all Internet traffic that runs through these providers is treated equally.
While the Rules have been praised by the Obama Administration and the FCC Chairman as “necessary to protect Internet openness against new tactics that would close the Internet,” there has been a rapid backlash from opponents.
Despite aggressive push-back from opponents, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is optimistic that the Rules will withstand a legal challenge. The FCC would likely argue that Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 is ambiguous and that the FCC should be granted Chevron deference in interpreting and applying it. The FCC will be facing a lot of litigation on its net neutrality rules.
The net neutrality repeal removes restrictions on blocking, throttling and prioritization, as long as these practices are publicly disclosed. This would allow ISPs to offer new pricing arrangements and services to content providers, cloud service operators, device manufacturers, and consumers.
If net neutrality is abolished, the Internet could shift from an essential service that all consumers can access to a product that can be packaged and sold to the highest bidders.
Stock photo from Carlos Amarillo