Net Neutrality: The Future of the Internet

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First of all, we will look at what net neutrality is, net neutrality is described by the easy access to all applications and content enabled by the service providers, without blocking access or favoring certain websites. For example, if right now you are reading an article on a website, looking at microwave ovens or watching TV shows or movies on Netflix, that is happening because your ISP doesn't throttle bandwidth or denies you access or hinders you in any other way.

The term 'net neutrality' was first introduced in 2002 by a Professor of Columbia Law School Tim Wu, while he was working in Virginia as an assistant professor. He wrote an essay that discussed the consumer rights on the one hand and ISP's duties and rights on other. Although the text isn't easy to understand the idea is that true consumer must be allowed to use the internet the way they want, with the rights of ISP restricted to policing network abuse.

What if the net neutrality ends? Well, some sites will become slower to load or will need a unique plan to access (Crowcroft 51). What's worse is that LSP will get the rights for blocking access to any sites without any prior approval by authorities, which might be great if it's about inappropriate content but not that good if it's an informative website. Within most of the world's countries, if you have a 5Mbps internet connection while using a website, you are bringing the full limit to bear on all the sites that you visit, regardless of the content and location included. Moreover, any website that has not been restrained by any judge is accessible freely, as well. That is the actual impact of the net neutrality.

Everyday use of the internet is an example of net neutrality. It has always been that way for people from many countries from all over the world. Till now, it was nothing of concern, but at the moment governments are considering abolishing net neutrality where all sites won't be accessible in the same way in future (Choi and Kim 447). Wherever you are thinking about the topic of net neutrality, most likely you will come up with a question that Why you should care? How is that going to affect you? The simplest answer to that would be that everyone's date is treated equally by the ISPs due to the open internet, ISPs are not able to censor the lawful websites, nor they can slow the speed of other legal sites.

For instance, an internet service provider having ties with certain entertainment streaming site or cable channel, it can slow the streaming or download speed of any streaming service or channel that may be competing with theirs. An ISO may start demanding more payment to provide you with bandwidth for streaming your most favorite Netflix shows or movies. Net neutrality may prevent that from occurring.

It was 2014 when the public became aware of the net neutrality when FCC, i.e., federal communication commission began considering two separate future options for the internet. First one is about allowing ISPs for delivering the content using both slow and fast internet lanes that will be reversing the net neutrality (Cheng 62). And secondly, it is about reclassifying the broadband internet to be a telecommunication service and preserving the net neutrality. In May 2015, FCC went with the second option, selecting net neutrality and keeping the internet services that the consumers are used to. FCC labeled internet as a service for communication and ISP as the common carriers under the communications act 1934. Finally, it means that internet was left as open as it could be.

But in April 2017, FCC being a process that as to weaken the ruling of 2015. Under orders of Ajit Pai, 'Restoring freedom of internet' proposal was drafted by the FCC to start dismantling the decision of 2015. Pai had a belief that deregulating of the internet will be creating more ISP related competition and give users more choices when it comes to a decision making for an ISP. Thus, the industry won't be dominated by the huge companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and C, etc.

Why keeping net neutrality is important?

Imagine if it's like cable TV. Many of people have cable TVs and pay for them thus you may know that at times cable service providers can force you to spend more for the channels you don't even watch, just to have your fav TV shows or sports channel. The new limitations to the internet can do the same to you by making you get bundles (Hahn and Wallsten 1554). For example, if you love watching Netflix, you will have to make more payment s for many other streaming services or channels that you are not even interested in. Same can happen with the apps you use the most, like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, etc. It's not ok in any way to pay more money for something that you should be easily able to access with your right to free information.

Internet should be considered a utility

The Internet might not be physically needed for survival, but it has become quite necessary for many of us. We use internet for getting our work done, talking to family and friends and for daily entertainment purpose. It is a bad idea to give the tool completely to the companies having their main concern to be the profits. It is just like letting the free market choose the tap water's price without a regulation. It won't be right if we let them decide Internet's fate.

Net neutrality protecting us from censorship online

A main aspect of the present net neutrality law states that it restricts providers of internet service from disagreements or blocking sites. Removing such laws may remove restrictions from any censorship. That may also lead to threatening innovation, as at a time AT&T tried blocking access to use Skype, which made it impossible for many new ventures to be a part of the future competition. It may also mean that internet providers will censor websites and articles that have information critical to them or the ones that compete with them due to similar media properties.

Limiting access means limiting knowledge

If net neutrality is abolished and websites and articles start getting charged differently only the people who can pay more will be able to access all kinds of data while ones unable to pay enough will have very limited access to data. Such a difference in access to the Internet may cause differences in levels of knowledge and unequal distribution of information (Crowcroft 52). Most people like youngsters and students won't be able to access the Internet for assignment and research purposes leading to a limited approach to many topics causing loss of potential to do their best. If different Web pages are charged differently only business, and high-income households will have access to everything on the internet causing segregation among information receivers. Many students won’t be able to access books, journals, and information regarding their field of study limiting their chances of having enough knowledge of their subjects.

A threat to potentially successful new businesses

Imagine when the absence of net neutrality brings limited access to data causing only a selective number of people to access information through Internet, how will the new business specifically the online businesses, reach out to all the customers. Abolishing net neutrality can become a serious threat to new businesses that would have used the internet to reach out to a diverse group of customers. In a net neutrality free era new businesses will have a very hard time to reach out to all types of customers as their reach will be limited to the ones who can afford to the new pricey Internet plan (Hahn and Wallsten 1554). That can be of great loss for purely Internet-dependent businesses as it will hinder their ability to be in touch with all types of customers and introduce every product.

Business may incur a lot of loss due to the act and may not even survive. In that era of technology when the Internet is a big platform for buying and selling, ending net neutrality may become a stop signal for all the upcoming business. A lot of creativity and productivity will be long along the restricted access route. That is not only the loss to the businesses but to the consumers as well who won't be able to reach out to the best businesses out there that can provide them with what they want.

Works Cited

Cheng, Hsing K. et al. “The debate on net neutrality: A policy perspective.” Information

Systems Research, vol. 22, no. 1, 2007, pp. 60-82.

Choi, Jay P. & Byung-Cheol Kim. “Net neutrality and investment incentives.” The Rand

Journal of Economics, vol. 41, no. 3, 2010, pp. 446-471.

Crowcroft, John. “Net neutrality: The technical side of the debate: A white paper.” ACM

SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review, vol. 37, no. 1, 2007, pp. 49-56.

Hahn, Robert W. & Scott Wallsten. “The economics of net neutrality.” The Economist’s

Voice, vol. 3, no. 6, 2006, pp. 1553-3832.

September 11, 2023


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