Net Neutrality

By Tyler Parker

Thursday, December 14, will mark the day that the internet as we know it changes forever. On that day, a set of laws and regulations known as net neutrality will either be repealed or kept as they are now. Net neutrality is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the idea, principle, or requirement that Internet service providers should or must treat all Internet data as the same regardless of its kind, source, or destination”

 

What net neutrality effectively means is that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cannot limit what one accesses on the web. They can neither block nor slow certain websites for certain users nor speed them up. This also means that ISPs can not charge a tiered fee, almost like cable television, for access to sites. While some theorize that if net neutrality were to be repealed, ISPs would use their new power to limit faster internet access and websites behind more fees, many internet service providers say that the internet would basically stay as it is now. “We do not and will not block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content—and we will be transparent with our customers about these policies,” Comcast states.

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Lindsay Chestnut of Baltimore holds protest sign near the FCC vote on net neutrality in Washington on Dec. 14. Photo by AP photographer Carolyn Kaster.

The subject of net neutrality is a very controversial topic around the country right now, with many plans to protest on the day of the vote. Meanwhile, online protests spread throughout the web. On December 7, protesters gathered around the country at several Verizon stores among other places trying to make their voices heard. Protesters chanted slogans such as “Time to fret—We cannot let them have the net,” and held signs reading things like “Don’t throttle me.”

 

On the other hand, others believe that net neutrality would actually help the internet. Many ISPs have been releasing statements on how by repealing net neutrality, they are actually taking more power away from the government. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) president Ajit Pai makes the case that net neutrality actually hurts smaller internet service providers. In Pai’s official statement on net neutrality he states :

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“Seven smaller mobile wireless providers tell us that “the uncertainty surrounding the Title II regulatory framework for wireless broadband services hinders our ability to meet our customer[s]’ needs, burdens our companies with unnecessary and costly obligations and inhibits our ability to build and operate networks in rural America.””

 

The net neutrality decision is one that has split our country and brought passionate opinions to the minds and mouths of many. The ISPs support it and many others are against it but there is no denying the impact that it will have. Whether for better or worse, December 14 will change the internet as we know it.