Net neutrality repeal draws needed opposition due to potential unfair practices by internet service providers

In 2018 Tech Issue
(Dalia Quiroz / Daily Titan)

Net neutrality has been the key to giving internet users exactly what they want when browsing the web. Whether someone is watching a movie on Netflix, scrolling through their Facebook feed or searching for something on Google, people are always given equivalent internet speeds for whatever they choose to do.

In 2015, the FCC voted to approve net neutrality in a 3-2 vote for an open and free internet — in large part because of Barack Obama’s influence and then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler being in favor of it. Pai, who was an FCC commissioner at the time, was one of two Republicans voting to repeal net neutrality.

The Federal Communications Commission’s current net neutrality rule is that all traffic runs on an equal lane of speed, meaning internet providers like Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc. cannot favor their content over that of competitors.

Under this definition, Comcast can’t choose to slow down Netflix in favor of speeding up its own streaming service, nor can it have Netflix charge customers more money for a superior internet fast lane.

On Dec. 14, 2017, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal the net neutrality laws. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai passionately defended the repeal leading up to the vote, as he believes the new rules will put broadband providers in a better position to offer consumers a wider variety of service options.

“We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” Pai told the New York Times. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”

Although the FCC has ruled against net neutrality, that doesn’t mean the battle is completely over. While slim, a chance for the opposition still remains. All Democratic senators and one Republican, Susan Collins, intend to vote for a bill that uses the Congressional Review Act to reverse the FCC’s ruling.

Also, 21 states, including California, are suing the FCC in an attempt to maintain net neutrality.

However, even if Democrats were able to win a majority in the Senate, they would still need the House of Representatives, largely populated by Republicans in support of the repeal, to vote in favor.

Eighty-three percent of people support keeping the FCC’s current net neutrality rules intact, according to a poll from the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation. This includes 89 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of independents.

“A decision to repeal net neutrality would be tacking against strong headwinds of public opinion blowing in the opposite direction,” said Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland.

For internet consumers who still want net neutrality saved, the best bet is to take complete action and have their voices heard by local senators, members of the House Republicans and the Supreme Court.

There are also many social media campaigns taking place online that are easy to join, along with protests happening all over the country demanding a reversal of the decision.

Getting involved and being outspoken on this issue can potentially persuade the outcome in favor of the net neutrality laws. If no major change is made regarding the FCC repeal, however, net neutrality will officially end, with the new laws taking place in late 2018 after final adjustments are made.  

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