Vote could alter net neutrality

OU News Bureau

Net neutrality, also referred to as open internet, has been the focal point of contention since the inception of the internet.

Simply put, net neutrality safeguards against unfair usage or regulations of internet service. It prevents internet service providers from slowing down Wi-Fi speeds to competition and ensures that all users have a basic level of equality when online.

Perhaps one of the most vocal supporters of the cause was president Barack Obama. In November 2014, Obama called on the FCC to take up the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.

The commission upheld the premise that all internet service providers should treat all internet traffic equally, delivering a strong vote in February 2015 in favor of keeping the internet open and free.

The freedom of the internet and the services it offers to all patrons are again at stake from a pending vote by the FCC on Dec. 14.

Ajit Pai is chairman of the FCC and outspoken opponent of net neutrality. Pai believes that net neutrality has deterred innovation and depressed the expanding of broadband networks.

Now, Pai wants to repeal regulations that deter broadband providers from blocking or slowing traffic. This means companies can pay to reach consumers more rapidly than competitors through fast lanes. This repeal could grant institutions that provide internet more power and affect consumers.

Erin Meyers, a media convergence professor at Oakland University, framed the situation:

“Comcast was throttling Netflix speeds to some of its users because they want you to watch videos through Comcast’s On-Demand, not Netflix,” Meyers said. “So, they were slowing down Netflix when users were using it, but the users don’t recognize that and put the blame on Netflix.”

Net neutrality involves more than just altering speeds. It pertains to nearly everything people consume while online.

“It also matters for political news,” Meyers said. “Internet service providers can’t say they’re a company that supports certain perspectives so they’re going to stop, slow or prioritize certain news from reaching your house.”

Blake Hogan favors Pai’s position that eliminating current regulations would allow businesses to experiment with different profit models. The college student, like many others, uses the internet for gaming, videos, news and entertainment.

“I don’t care if the vote passes,” Hogan said. “If worse comes to worse and the internet becomes ruined, maybe they’ll make it better the next time around.”

Hogan’s comments relate to an underlying democratic ideal of expressing dissent through voting.

Individuals who feel that the passage of the new act would adversely affect the current online experience are encouraged to voice their opinions. Along with protests and online discussion forums, they can contact their state representative.


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Posted by on Dec 9 2017. Filed under Michigan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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