The internet is the vehicle for information for much of the world. It’s how many write messages to and from family members and co-workers, watch movies, scroll through social media, and much more. The term ‘net neutrality’ orientated from law professor, Tim Wu, in 2003. It stands for freedom on the internet -both in access and speed. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in favor of laws safe guarding net neutrality. This meant that internet service providers could not offer varying rates based on metrics to both customers and companies on the web. The internet would remain ‘neutral’ in this area.
However, just this week this vote was repealed. It is interesting to note that there is a wide spectrum of feeling between major providers of internet as well as large websites. Back in 2015, Netflix and Facebook were in favor of the law, however Verizon and Comcast were against it. Those who were for it felt like the law might help create unity and equality and would add a measure of protection to both providers and customers. Those against the law felt like it wasn’t necessary and/or it would just add more rules to the already busy technological world. Comcast continues to have this posted on its site:
Since the current ruling, these rules have gone away. This doesn’t mean that the internet will immediately or ever change in its view of neutrality. Companies will have the choice to decide if they want to apply fees for faster service and customers might have to pay extra for larger usage plans. In the past, companies were able to block certain types of services going through their internet bandwidth. One example is Madison River Communication, who was blocking VOIP from customers. The FCC deemed it inappropriate and Madison River was allotted a fee of $15,000.
Will this new vote give the internet providers too much power? Will they do harm to the access and freedom hoped for on the internet? For many customers who have a multiple options for internet, this could end up giving some power back to the customers to choose the best and most economical plan for them. In more rural areas where there is limited availability, customers might end up with less options. The FCC will continue to monitor how net neutrality can be accomplished and which laws might best make that happen.