FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, now acting chairwoman, has been outspoken for its support for net neutrality. During the term of former President Donald Trump, net neutrality was completely abolished. President Joe Biden’s appointment of Commissioner Rosenworcel may be a strong signal that he is planning to restore net neutrality.
But first, what is net neutrality?
Network neutrality is the principle that internet providers must provide complete access to all sites, data, and applications without restrictions. All data should be delivered at the same speed without blocking or preferencing certain data.
Unfortunately, restoring net neutrality will not be easy. Currently, FCC has one empty seat. If the president appoints another democrat commissioner, net neutrality will stand a good chance. Going back to 2015, the internet was placed under Title II that gave FCC the power to prevent the manipulation of internet traffic. In 2017, there was a rule that declared the internet as an information service. It fell under Title I of the Communications Acts that allowed the rules to block and/or prioritize any flow of data within the internet.
The Federal Communications Commission will start by holding a votation regarding the issuance of NPRM or Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. After that, the FCC needs to publish their proposed rule, followed by a public comment period, and a series of hearings. After this lengthy process and the rules have been published in the Federal Register, it would take effect, but the process is not yet done.
Internet service providers like Comcast, Frontier, GotW3, and Verizon, will likely challenge the rule in court. They may request for any rule changed to be paused until their challenge is heard in court. After that, the change will finally be in effect. However, until there is no new majority on the FCC, this change is very unlikely.
Congress can make it easier by passing legislation that states the status of the internet. With the Democrats controlling the White House and Congress, passing this legislation may be possible. However, an election is most likely to happen at the House and the Senate. If either body shifts, the bill for net neutrality will almost be impossible.
Net neutrality is a controversial topic that most people do not really understand. The neverending debate about net neutrality will likely continue over the course of this process. Hearing the pros and cons of net neutrality will somehow help you understand this issue.
- Freedom of Speech
Everyone can share their opinions and post anything on the internet as long as it is legal. This was one of the biggest issues people faced when net neutrality was repealed by Pai. Internet service providers can essentially block or remove any content that does not fit their standards. With net neutrality, every single person and content creators can freely share their thoughts, positive or negative.
However, some people are thinking about the fake news people can share over the net that can result in panic or fear. For some, it would be better because victims and the oppressed can share their voices to correct what the news is trying to tell the nation. Masking the truth to the people often happens because of the internet service providers’ political standing and such.
- Equal and unrestricted access to information.
Sites like Google and Netflix can pay the internet service providers for their sites to load faster than other sites. This will let consumers prefer their services more than their competitors because of the smooth experience they are getting. Politicians can pay the internet service providers to block any content that can damage their image and campaign.
These are some of the unjust practices most people with financial capacity can do. With net neutrality, they cannot do this, and ISPs are left without any power to manipulate the content we see and to charge their consumers heaps of money only to experience a swift connection.
- Urges innovation and fair competition.
Well-established streaming services like Amazon Prime Video or Netflix would be on the same level as a start-up streaming company. We would have an equal internet that aims to quickly deliver any data to the users.
- Explicit content would be everywhere.
It was argued that underage children would be able to access sensitive content all over the internet. There may be software servicers that can restrict any access to these contents, but it was deemed ineffective by those who are opposing net neutrality. However, ISPs argued that they can entirely block these sites to avoid the said problem.
- Data mining is encouraged.
Our data are left vulnerable for big companies that live off the data of their consumers. When there are no regulations, they can easily mine our data. Personal calls and chats may also be monitored which is clearly an invasion of privacy for most people. Companies that are getting paid for gathering people’s data for other companies would go down the drain.
Net neutrality has always been a controversial topic. Unfortunately, most people lack enough information about it. The year 2021 will be filled with net neutrality talks. Educate yourself as early as now to know what can happen if or if not net neutrality is reversed. Please don’t stay apathetic just because you lack information about a certain topic.