For many, the concept of net neutrality is a complex and difficult one to grasp. What you need to know is that the new law makes the claim that it will preserve an open Internet where we maintain our right to free speech and ability to communicate freely online. Big players such as Bill Gates, Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon are a few of the advocates for net neutrality. In fact, Senator Al Franken once described net neutrality as being the “first amendment of our time,” by creating an even playing field for competition and future innovation. Net neutrality is being hailed as a way to lower the barriers of entry for entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses. It also has stringent guidelines in place on ensuring cable companies cannot screen, interrupt, or filter Internet content without a court order.
All That Glitters is Not Gold
In February 2015, after a 3-2 vote, the government took over the internet when net neutrality was approved.
As logical as this elegant and principled outline was laid out, there are many who believe (as usual) the whole picture has yet to be revealed, and perhaps, the internet service providers (ISPs) may not have their users’ best interests in mind when making these active management decisions. The argument was made that preferential treatment from ISPs would be given to content companies who could pay for a faster Internet, thus relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. For example, certain important Internet services require heavy and uninterrupted bandwidth use, such as medical services or VOIP. These companies would have a much faster service compared to the average online business.
In fact, many argue that it is not about the user, but rather about the money potential involved. If it gives Internet service providers the ability to charge more for faster Internet service, it begs the question of “How much will we have to pay?” Perhaps the real problem is the monopoly that companies like AT&T and Comcast will hold over the US market. In an article from the NY Times, the writer states, “If we stay the present course, the commission’s new policy will build a better wireless network around a more entrenched monopoly system, lodging an insurmountable obstacle in the path toward bringing America’s broadband network up to speed with the rest of the world.”
Is This a Direct Violation of Our Rights?
To add insult to injury, many believe this is also a direct violation of our first amendment rights and gives the FCC the power to take control of the distribution channel to the consumer and collect “rents”. In an article from Voices of Liberty, Alice Salles makes some excellent points about what how Net Neutrality will affect us.
Obama promises the new rules will “even out” the playing field. Opponents warn about new taxes. But who’s right and how do we get to the bottom of it? Maybe these 10 important facts about the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules may help you decide.
1- Obama’s Net Neutrality Means Fewer Choices, Less Freedom
To Obama, net neutrality means not allowing consumers to choose what they want to spend their money on. To the FCC and the President, web site operators should never have the option of spending more money to ensure that content gets delivered as promised. Obama’s net neutrality ensures certain services and applications are limited simply because start-ups and small business may hurt if they cannot compete “mano a mano” with the big dogs.
By ensuring the standards are low to everybody, the new net neutrality rules do not give you access to better services if you’re willing to pay for it.
2- New Rules Reclassify Broadband
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had one goal in mind: reclassify the Internet by categorizing it as a telecom service instead of referring to it as an information service.
That is not just a sign of Wheeler’s unfamiliarity with what the Internet provides to consumers, it’s also a clear sign of what the new rules are all about: government control over the Internet. By reclassifying the Internet, the government is able to exert more control over it.
3- What We Have Now Is (Sorta) Net Neutrality
Exceptions exist, but as it stands, cable and wireless companies do not discriminate when it comes to similar types of web traffic. Broadband providers don’t use their technology to block or deliberately slow the exchange of data either. But to regulators, things are not right until government is involved. As a result, rules were put in place to restrain broadband providers even further. To gather support for the new rules, regulators claimed major companies were interested in manipulating the network. The fear mongering was so strong that support for the FCC rules became widespread.
4- Rules Will Thwart Innovation
Smaller Internet businesses and other start-ups have been fervent proponents of the new FCC rules, but not too long ago, the wireless industry was heavily against net neutrality regulations. In 2010, when the FCC passed several regulations covering the Internet, the industry argued the new rules would decelerate innovation. As a result, only a few transparency rules were enforced. But now, new rules impact everybody, especially if you’re a consumer.
From now on, anything you use to have access to the Internet, whether it’s a PC, a tablet, phone, Macbook, etc. will have to comply with the new rules. Internet providers will also have to abide by the same three rules: no blocking, no restraint toward competitors, and no paid prioritization. But if the rules are so black and white, why are so many people so angry about them?
5- FCC’s Rules Aren’t Predictable
New FCC regulations may not sound all that bad to you, but what if I told you that they are unpredictable? Would you still trust Obama and the bureaucrats?
According to cable and wireless companies and some Republicans who strongly opposed the new rules, uncertainty makes it hard for Internet providers to know what they are dealing with. Not knowing what the legal battles you will have to pick ahead before launching a program or a service can be damaging not only to the companies, but also to consumers.
6- You WILL Be Affected
In the short run, nobody will feel the changes.
Experts say that once the FCC puts the Internet in the same regulatory spectrum as the telephone, the next step is to handle it as a public utility. That may have a series of implications that would impact the most dynamic means of communication we know.
The results could change how the Internet works and you will soon long for the days Bill Clinton was president; not because of the sex scandals but because accessing the Internet through AOL was much faster.
7- (Some) Internet Activists Support FCC Because They Think Government Is Here To Save Us
Nevermind that Edward Snowden proved to us all that the government is not here to act with our best interest in mind, especially when it comes to the Internet. Some Internet activists, however, believe the FCC is doing what’s right because they put too much faith in bureaucracy.
Instead of using lobbyists, they used the Internet to obtain support from common Americans.
The fear mongering campaign involved flooding the FCC with record-breaking number of comments sent by the public. Even Obama admitted that, without Americans, the FCC decision “wouldn’t have happened”.
8- Congress Could Still Stop FCC
Next stop is Congress.
As the fight brews and broadband providers turn to their legal teams, Republican lawmakers want to push new legislation that would block FCC’s regulations. But how good are their ideas anyway? We are not quite sure.
But even if Congress does pass a piece of legislation that blocks FCC’s rules, Obama wouldn’t sign the bill into law without Democrats behind it. This could look like a legal dead end.
9- FCC’s New Rules Stifles Free Speech
By reclassifying the Internet and exerting control over it, the government will undoubtedly have more power over what you can use it for.
The Internet has always been a platform where consumers globally have the power to exchange ideas about everything. By restricting our freedom to choose and use the Internet as we please, the government also violates the 1st Amendment.
From the official statement from The Republican Liberty Caucus:
“The Republican Liberty Caucus has urged Congress to intervene to prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from adopting President Obama’s so-called “Net Neutrality” rules, which would stifle free speech, technological innovation and competition in the marketplace”
10- There’s More To Come
According to the Washington Post, the FCC’s rules represent “government’s most forceful intervention ever into the affairs of Internet providers.”
What FCC wants to do with the Internet is to take control. The rules were just an excuse to open the doors, but what the government will do with that power once it’s settled in is still up in the air.
Now that the government controls the Internet, I ask you if you believe they will have our best intentions at heart and create an open and free Internet. Or, will they do what they have previously done and drown out our voices.
Tess Pennington is the editor for ReadyNutrition.com. After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999, Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management and response. Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But by following Tess’s tips for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months, or even years.