Net Neutrality is a very important topic in today’s society. We have become so reliant on the Internet that we take it’s ease of access, speed, and transparency for granted. The Internet has grown on the basis of being completely “open.” This means that users can come and go as they please and access any resources throughout the world from any Internet-connected device in the same way as everyone else. However, as with most popular trends, individuals and companies quickly see an opportunity for profit.
Imagine that you had to pay a “premium” to access sites such as Netflix and Hulu because they are more bandwidth intensive. Today, you visit Netflix and watch a movie just as easily as someone sends an email even though each action has starkly different technical requirements. If we get down to it, streaming a 2 hour video is far more “costly” than sending a five thousand word email. Imagine if a large corporation paid a provider to steer customers directly to their website by blocking all of their competitors. Internet providers have lobbyied to be able to control and steer the traffic on their networks (in order to charge fees), rather than just being a transparent provider. In 2015, the FCC ruled that broadband Internet is considered a “telecommunications service.” Meaning that it must be treated similar to public utilities like electricity or telephone lines. Large communications companies such as Verizon, Comcast, TW, etc, continued to fight this ruling and recently had it overturned. The new administration has stated that they do not believe net neutrality laws are necessary, and Mr. Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC, recently overturned the ruling. Chairman Pai is a former Verizon lawyer that fought for this very action. This has the potential to be extremely detrimental to the survival of an truly open Internet.
- Research and discuss what net neutrality is. Explain it in such a way that someone without a technical background can understand. Why do companies want to have the ruling overturned? What companies are teaming up to fight the ruling?
2. Discuss whether or not you are for or against Net Neutrality. Support your position.