The Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service welcomed students back for this semester’s first Pizza & Politics and a discussion on net neutrality.
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality laws which essentially prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from determining what you see and how quickly you see it. Without net neutrality, companies could pay ISPs for increased access speed to their websites and ISPs could potentially restrict access to certain sites in certain markets.
Students were asked whether or not they thought the repeal of net neutrality aligns with the view of the American people. Several students felt that it didn’t, citing the numerous polls taken which have almost unanimously reported the majority of people opposing the repeal. Others believed that net neutrality created a mixed bag, meaning that although one might disagree with the repeal, they might also support a free market capitalist economy–which are stances that fundamentally contradict one another. Others felt that with the government stepping in to create a fair playing field the free market economy could thrive.
Whether the internet and more specifically net neutrality fall under the public or private sector has perpetuated the divide between those that support and those that oppose the regulations, which accompanies the debate over whether the internet should be considered a utility or not. Some students felt that it falls under the private sector more so because the private sector is responsible for much of the infrastructure and innovation regarding service and usage. Others felt that the government should implement regulations and laws that follow public opinion and because a reported majority support net neutrality the government should also support it.
The ability for startup tech companies to survive and thrive under net neutrality laws is a hot-button topic with the overarching discussion. Some students felt that repealing the laws would make it almost impossible for startups to survive because there would be no way for them to compete with companies like Google, Amazon and Apple. Others felt that net neutrality has in no way helped or increased the likelihood of a successful startup and felt that the repeal would not hurt them either.
As with all Pizza & Politics, the goal is to have an educational discussion and hopefully leave with a better understanding of the topic discussed. Pizza & Politics is held every Wednesday at 12 p.m. in the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service located in the Sharwan Smith Student Center. For more information about P&P and other Leavitt Center events, stop by or visit their website.