The Federal Communications Commission announced a plan to repeal the net neutrality rules led by Ajit Pai, the Trump-nominated chairman. He believed that the rules had long halted innovation and was an instance of “the federal government micromanaging the internet”. His decision to endorse the repealing of the rules has been meet with backlash from activists and internet companies, but many conservatives and wireless companies (such as Verizon) have given their support to Pai.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality essentials protect data from internet providers and presents them as equal data. Internet providers cannot see what we do online, and this prohibits them from throttling data download speeds or paid prioritization on websites. The ethical consequences of this could lead to websites being blocked unless a price is paid to access them. This situation can be visualized as represented in a Black Mirror episode “15 million merits”. This is the principle that was put into action by Obama’s administration in 2015.
Now the cable companies are lobbying FCC and congress to end net neutrality which would allow them to effectively tax the internet, a tax that would be placed on every sector of the economy in America.
The danger of this is other countries following suit, net neutrality is already in place under in Portugal. The telecommunications company MEO required users to pay a base fee and had 5 other additional options of around £5 a month which would allow more data in order to access applications ranging from the tiers messaging, video, email, social and music. The abuses that are possible once net neutrality has been removed are endless. The former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was disappointed by the move, and reminded that the job of the FCC was to represent the consumer; the decision by Pai will only benefit the internet providers.
However the movement to block the repeal of net neutrality is in full swing with a nationwide protest planned the week before the FCC meeting to approve the repeal. There are multiple calls for Congress to intervene due to the potential complications of the repeal and the campaign against Pai has been gaining more and more support. This move to “restore internet freedom” will not be left unchallenged.