Net Neutrality: those words have buzzed around the internet and on the news since November of 2017. But what is it?
Net Neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISP), such a Comcast, Time Warner and Century Link, must treat all data on the internet the same. They must not discriminate or charge differently based on the user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment or method of communication.
In 2015, after a decade of discussion, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted Net Neutrality rules based on Title II of the Communications Act which gave internet users the strongest protection possible.
However, it would seem the FCC just won’t let us be.
On Dec. 14, 2017 the government approved Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to reverse the rules of Net Neutrality.
As chairman, Pai oversees the entire entity of the FCC. This means promoting competition between broadband services, supporting the economy of the United States by ensuring competitive framework for communications, encouraging the best use of communication services domestically and internationally and revising media regulations.
However, it doesn’t seem like Pai is taking the situation and vote seriously. In his speech about the vote in 2017, he tells us what he has done online over the days leading up to that moment.
“I’ve downloaded interesting podcasts about blockchain technology, ordered a burrito, managed my playoff-bound fantasy football team, and—as you may have seen—tweeted,” Pai said.
Seriously. This is a 45-year-old government official, telling the nation in his speech regarding the fate of the free internet that he uses it to order Mexican food, plays fantasy football and go on Twitter.
What exactly does that have to do with net neutrality? It sounds like Pai is just trying to take the opportunity to relate to Millennials and Generation Y. They are the ones listening and are arguably the group most concerned about the fate of the internet in America.
Throughout his speech, Pai also makes statements about the vote bringing internet regulation and Net Neutrality back to the way it was during the Clinton administration in the 1990s.
Bill Clinton was the first United States president to use email in the White House. The same version and style of regulations for internet that existed from 1996 and the days of dial-up internet up to 2015 with the invention of the term “Netflix and Chill,” are not the best tools to govern a more advanced internet.
Free and open internet is one of the greatest things ever created by humans. We should be doing everything we can to keep it that way.
The internet has become one of the few places where the voice of the people is still heard. Though we may not want to hear what all of those voices have to say, we shouldn’t be denying them in favor of making it easier for the one percent and ISP lobbyists to discriminate against content, traffic and users based on what they think is best.
Carlee Jo Blumenthal
Markus Petritz for SUU News