The concept of a free Internet is experiencing growing pains. On Wednesday, Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, decided to address the issue of net neutrality.
Net neutrality states that Internet Service Providers are required to allow access to all content and areas of the Internet without discrimination. How does it affect the everyday user? Before the regulation was put into place ISPs could have an impact on download times for services that were in direct competition with their company. It also gave them liberties in showing preference to affiliates. The protocols created in 2015 stopped this.
So on April 26th, 2017, Pai decided to repeal the stringent regulations of net neutrality. After accepting the position of chairperson by President Trump three months ago, Pai decided to overturn existing policies supported by Obama. Pai stated this is an intrusion upon the free internet, and current rules need to be revised.
The FCC found inspiration for this policy from the Title II of Communications Act of 1934. That’s right; they created a strategy based on some rules concocted over 80 years ago. Such a loophole allowed the FCC to classified ISPs as utilities allowing them to govern “industry” regulations as they would over an electric company.
Many people are divided evenly down the middle in regards to opposing or supporting net neutrality as is evident by comments found on Reddit . Content providers such as Google and Apple support net neutrality. They feel individuals paying for internet services deserve equal access and should not have their experience be limited to or by ISP decisions. Those directly affected, broadband companies such as Comcast and Verizon, stand against this proposal stating that the regulations are too stiff and that it will affect future innovations and investments. They support the open internet but feel that the rules are too stringent.
Pai is standing firm in his belief in reevaluating current policies. The FCC will be voting on new changes towards the end of May after allowing the public to voice its concerns and opinions. This decision will influence future changes the FCC incorporates into existing regulations. The final decision is still up in the air.