Be aware! The repeal would allow internet service providers to limit user access and charge some users more than others.
Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that they intend to revoke the watershed set of policies which allowed all US citizens equal access to the internet. Revoking these policies would immensely impact users, as internet service providers would be allowed to employ practices such as throttling and restricting user access to online platforms.
Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC submitted the proposal which aims to revoke all Net Neutrality policies created under the Obama administration. The policies addressed certain practices amongst internet service providers such as throttling a user’s connection when they visit certain sites. The policies also prohibited companies from charging users more when they utilized certain services, such as online media streaming.
The proposal was received with mixed feelings. American citizens’ right to free speech and internet usage immediately came into question, while the proposal also sparked debate between internet entities such as Amazon and Google and telecommunications firms such as Verizon and AT&T. According to internet firms, the repeal could place internet service providers in the questionable position of knowledge guardians. However, telecommunications firms have argued that the current policies are crippling to their customer service capabilities.
According to Pai, the latest proposal would demand that internet service providers and telecommunications firms develop a sense of transparency regarding their business practices. According to Pai, this policy, in turn, would create a culture of more informed consumers.
So far experts seem to think that Pai’s proposal is likely to be approved during a meeting scheduled for December 14. Pai, a noted Republican in one of three Republicans with voting rights in the FCC, with the two remaining members being Democrats.
Internet service providers and telecom firms are likely to continue their lobbying campaign in Washington, a campaign which has been active just as the repeal proposal started to form.
However, certain Internet-related companies are expected to fight the repeal proposal. In particular, the industry group, the Internet Association, is expected to be a key player in opposing the repeal. During 2015, the Internet Association contributed to a legal effort to protect the current Net Neutrality policies. Since Pai announced the FCC’s intentions to repeal the current policies earlier this year, the Internet Agency has received over 20 million complaints from the public, which places them in direct opposition of the latest proposal.
Internet service providers have a long history of fighting against internet regulatory policies. The latest proposal would allow these companies to manipulate any customer’s internet connectivity according to their and their business partners’ interests.
According to AT&T’s vice-president, Joan Marsh, the proposal would encourage innovation as opposed to the stifling effect government regulation has introduced.
However, popular online firms such as Facebook and Google remain vehemently opposed to the proposal. According to these companies, this would place immense power in the hands of internet service providers, who can thwart or slow down a user’s online access without needing any clear justification. Net neutrality was created in order to address the previous questionable business practices.
Facebook vice-president Erin Egan stated that Facebook was disappointed in the FCC’s proposal. Egan added that the company and its shareholders will remain committed to the guiding principle which created Net Neutrality.
Small businesses are likely to be most affected by the FCC’s proposal. Once internet service providers start enforcing higher prices for internet access for small online businesses, most businesses might become discouraged. Large businesses, however, would be able to afford higher costs. This could severely hurt online innovation, as many hugely popular platforms, such as Pinterest and Etsy, started as free platforms thanks to fair internet connectivity costs.
In addition, consumers are likely to be affected by the proposal as well. Once companies are charged more for internet access, the customer gets charged more, especially in cases such as the streaming service, Netflix, which depends on reliable, high-speed internet.
Chief executive of the Internet Association, Michael Beckerman has already stated that the proposal will effectively end net neutrality and compromise thousands of American citizens’ basic rights.
However, Pai maintains that the suggested proposal is to minimize potential danger. According to Pai, current policies harm telecommunication innovation as well as consumers’ options, as companies cannot provide its users with tailored packages. Pai also stated that this stifles the internet providing industry, as companies are prevented from experimenting with different business models.
According to one of the US’s most prominent broadband firms, Comcast, they would not throttle a user’s connection, providing that the viewed material is legal.
However, the FCC confirmed that they would continue to monitor internet service providers in order to police practices such as throttling, as the FCC considers it anticompetitive.
Net neutrality was passed in 2015 and is considered a watershed moment in the history of the internet as it proved that internet access is as vital as electricity, for example. The Net Neutrality policy was initiated by former FCC chairman under the Obama administration, Tom Wheeler.
Pai was instated as current chairman in January, shortly after President Trump took office. During his term as chairman, he has done away with several regulating policies, including policies related to the telecom, newspaper, and broadcasting industries. In addition to his Net Neutrality repeal proposal, Pai announced a proposal to get rid of a current policy which allows a single broadcasting corporation to reach more than 39% of US homes.
The impending fight over net neutrality is likely to become another pressing issue in a growing list for America citizens. In addition, it is likely that most online-based companies and human rights advocacy groups won’t go down without a fight. Several online corporations such as Facebook and Google are expected to contribute to opposing the proposed repeal. The two companies initiated an online protest earlier this year against the repeal.
The next three weeks will probably be a crucial time in determining the future of American citizens’ online rights. While both groups are expected to lobby and probably enter court battles, this proposal has already shown a blatant disregard for the rights of individuals and small businesses alike.
If you value an open Internet and would like to support Web users, small businesses, entrepreneurs, you can participate in a campaign and make Congress to hear your voice! Please join here at https://www.battleforthenet.com/.
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