As explained by USA Today, net neutrality in affect makes web service providers (like Comcast, Verizon, etc.) allow their users to view all legal content on an equal basis. By “on an equal basis” I mean that the Internet providers are not able to block certain sites, speed up some people’s content, or slow down others’. For example, paid prioritization became a no-no when net neutrality became legal in the states back in 2015.
Net neutrality has recently reemerged in news headlines with its US repeal in early December 2017 by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). The repeal was tried on a party-line vote; it passed carrying a vote of 3-2. Now that net neutrality has been thrown out the window Internet service providers will be required to publicly admit when they block an entity or when they limit their service in any of the other ways that were illegal as of mid-2015. Despite this resurgence of its importance in government actions and in the public’s day to day life, many people are still confused about the entire concept of net neutrality.
There is both a positive side and a negative side to net neutrality in the United States. I will start with some of the unfortunate results of net neutrality, or open Internet, on a broad overall view. Net neutrality makes it yet more difficult for parents who wish their children to have a well-formed conscience or moral compass in trying to make sure what their children consume on the Internet and TV is appropriate.
There always seems to be those advertisements which no one needs to see that frequently show up on the sidebar of an article or in your social media feed. Even The Washington Post‘s tech columnist Brian Fung clearly stated while net neutrality was enforced that Internet providers could not, “stop you from visiting crazy tentacle porn sites, if you so wished.” Pornographic material has been known to bring about unhealthy psychological conditions in people of all ages.
On a lighter note, there are, by far, some very positive things open Internet can offer. The web has become a battleground for numerous rights, among them equality, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. And this factor is something I and many other people admire in net neutrality. For anyone who wishes to be heard, net neutrality could be a friend.
Change.org, a site where people are able to create and publicize petitions directed to anyone and for practically anything, came out in December (prior to the repeal) saying, “we strongly oppose Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to end net neutrality.” Jonathan Perri of Change.org continued on to point out that the absence of net neutrality will have a heavy impact on “petitions, fundraisers, and educational content.”
I began my online writing career last year, and within a number of months I found several of the online public forums I was writing for were getting shut down. These included the community blogging website Niume and The Blaze‘s My Voice column. In addition, SEO is yet another thing I have to worry about when writing for the web. This includes trying to keep my sentences concise. (This is really difficult at times.) And now in the wake of a country without net neutrality, the content producers of the web realize quite clearly how competitive a field the Internet is.
However, for the common daily web surfer, no drastic or sudden changes are bound to take place right away. Some providers might look to making certain services such as video streaming more affordable, competing among themselves for the least expensive method. This practice would likely lower the costs for such services for the typical consumer. On the other hand, some believe Internet providers might eventually start charging a higher fee for prime services such as Netflix.
All in all, net neutrality is quite relative to many aspects of Internet activity and is itself somewhat complex. It has its pros and cons. Net neutrality in one form or another may return to the US in the future.