Net neutrality is the basic concept that internet service providers should not be able to charge more for data based on where that data is coming from.
I believe that net neutrality is important to retain, so that all internet users can have equal access to the same content under a data plan. Those who believe in net neutrality believe that an internet service provider should not be able to charge more for the same amount of data of streaming a video on YouTube vs. Amazon. Net neutrality is made possible with rules set by the Federal Communications Commission in 2010. In 2014, a court ruling decided that phone service was different and should not be protected by net neutrality, scaring many net neutrality supporters.
On February 26th, 2015, new net neutrality rules were adopted by the FCC. Rules regarding net neutrality are protected by the Communications Act and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, although provisions that are no longer relevant to modern broadband service are no longer required to be followed. These two legal documents outline the regulations for broadband innovators and investors, such as discriminating service based on the web domain. The election of Trump brings net neutrality into question again, as Trump has publicly opposed net neutrality in the past.
In my opinion, it is important that net neutrality is continually protected. I understand a lot of arguments against net neutrality, and I admit that getting rid of net neutrality could have some potential positive effects. For example, enabling more innovation within the internet service provider industry through putting new packages on the market. However, the principle of service providers being able to basically censor whichever sites they choose to, without any legal protection for the consumer, is too much of a risk.
The internet is a beautiful thing. In our modern life, we often take for granted how crucial the internet is to our day to day lives. Instant access to the entire repository of human knowledge at our fingertips is absolutely incredible and something that is precious to our modern society, something that needs to be protected. It seems a little counterintuitive that more laws enforced by the U.S. federal government would actually be beneficial to keeping access to the internet more equitable and accessible for all. However, since the major service providers essentially serve as gate keepers for the world’s entire repository of knowledge from the rest of society, having government regulations on the abilities of these service providers is the only sensible thing to do in order to protect the internet.
Net neutrality is not just important for consumers and internet users, it is also good for small websites. With net neutrality, small websites do not have to pay a small premium in order to to prevent their flow of data from being restricted, allowing small sites to grow, even if bigger sites then suffer from comparably slower loading speeds.
Some would argue that since larger websites are more important to internet users, if internet service providers gave preferences to these sites for loading speed, internet users would actually benefit. However, this would just increase the gap between the presences of major companies and corporations, and small sites just getting started online, basically creating an online elite class of websites. How is this good for anyone, except those at the top? People would have to pay for these faster loading speeds anyway, and the difference in loading speeds and money would in my opinion not even be worth it.
Yet another argument is that since consumers would just choose the ISP with the best prices, for the increased charges for certain services, prices for internet wouldn’t actually raise that much because of the population. However, I believe a monopoly would likely form between the major carriers AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, in which all three companies would raise prices so that consumers would have no choice but to pay more.
In conclusion, net neutrality isn’t a perfect solution, but the current regulations put in place and important for protecting the free internet, and should stay there.