By Komron Aripov
The author of this article hopes you are having a great day today, for he wouldn’t say so. On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the net neutrality rules it had set two years ago. These rules restrained ISPs from discriminating your content: throttling services of competitors, prioritizing and blocking any content they wish to, with the only restriction being that these changes need to be publicly declared.
Although this article applies to the US, one cannot simply overstate the importance of net neutrality rules. They guarantee freedom on the internet, which is today, something people take for granted. Back in 2015, it was questionable whether net neutrality was going to be implemented, but with the support of Barack Obama, and some major tech companies like Netflix, the FCC has gone beyond by classifying telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act, giving it strong legal tools to back up the policy.
"The action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the internet," Wheeler said back in 2015, and two years later, all this progress seems to be undone. Ajit Pai, the chief commissioner of the FCC, wasn’t on board with this decision back then, and today, delivered his speech against net neutrality.
“The internet wasn't broken in 2015. We were not living in some digital dystopia,” said he. While it is true, repealing net neutrality does not help the creation of a digital utopia.
So, what could this mess of politics and bureaucracy mean to you? Most probably, nothing drastic. This court decision is applicable only to the US, and even if you do happen to live there, this vote is almost guaranteed to be followed by a lawsuit, which I hope is successful in putting the regulations back in place. Otherwise, the major US carriers could slowly change their plans in all anti-competitive ways to earn more money, for example, offering faster speeds on the internet services they provide and throttle the ones of their components.
One thing for sure, is that the retraction of net neutrality will play strongly in favor of giant conglomerate companies, making it extremely hard for new startups and innovations to succeed, which as we all know – is unhealthy for the country’s economy.
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