Net Neutrality: What’s the Big Deal?

Net Neutrality has been a pretty hot topic since the election of Donald Trump. Before I even begin to explain what Trump’s plans for net neutrality are and how they are going to effect our futures as U.S. citizens, I have to explain what net neutrality is. Net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers can’t speed up, slow down, or block any of the content that you may want to use. So companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast legally cannot regulate what you do and do not view on websites and apps. Trump plans to terminate certain regulations within the FCC, which will no longer prohibit large companies like this to decide what users view.

During his presidency, Donald Trump has already taken strides in changing the landscape of net neutrality. As predicted in the article, “Trump’s First 100 Days: Technology, Privacy, and Intelligence“, Trump replaced the former FCC chairmen Tom Wheeler, who was a Democrat, with Ajit Pai to lean the FCC more in the direction of the Republicans. In the same article it is stated that both Democrats and Republicans both agree that internet service providers (ISPs) shouldn’t lean towards or prohibit the use of certain websites. However, Democrats believe that there should be an absolute prohibition of paid prioritization and blocking, whereas the Republicans believe there shouldn’t be an outright ban against these things. With Trump’s appointing of Pai as the FCC chairman, people are beginning to fear that Pai will eliminate the FCC’s past decision to closely regulate internet service. This means that those large ISPs will now be able to slow down or block content they feel is harmful to their network. If this were to happen, people would be forced to view only information that is available on their ISP, which may prove to be harmful because other ISPs now won’t be able to promote their services unless they are on their own ISP.

In the article, “Net Neutrality Foe to Head the FCC“, it is stated that Pai also proposed a plan that would terminate FCC enhanced transparency reporting requirements for ISPs that don’t have 250,000 subscribers, for the duration 5 years. This termination will in turn effect smaller websites and providers because they wouldn’t be able to pay the large fees brought about by the larger companies like AT&T and Verizon, without government intervention. This forces people to pay large amounts of money to larger ISPs so that they don’t experience the slower speed or the glitches of the smaller ISPs.

These findings were the most alarming to me because they are essentially a look into the future of what are online experience will be like. Hopefully in the future we aren’t forced to buy from big name companies that have a monopoly on the content of the internet and what people can and cannot view. This would completely go against the basis of net neutrality and what the Republican party claims that they believe in. Not only will it be hypocritical on the end of the Republican party, but it will also make the American government look more like a dictatorship rather than a democracy of free people who can view what they want, wherever they want, when they want.

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