FCC to vote on net neutrality


Elad Gov-Ari

[Update: The FCC voted 3:2, in favor of ending net neutrality.]  
[dropcap style=”simple” size=”4″]W[/dropcap]ith the rise of the internet’s many functions, the legality of pricing and service has been quite blurry for customers. With free usage of any websites, the internet surfers enjoy freedom of browsing any website – for now.
Currently under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, dubbed the “net neutrality clause,” internet service providers (ISPs) have had little to no control over what websites are accessible or the speed at which a customer can access them, with obvious compliance to the Federal Communications Committee (FCC), a governing body over communicative freedoms, rules and regulations. With a new charter, aiming to remove net neutrality, ISPs could control the flow of internet traffic, with faster and slower “lane” websites. The FCC will vote today, Dec. 14, whether to keep the clause.
The internet has flourished under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, allowing users and ISPs to profit off both free reign of content and monetarily valuable service, with investments of over $1.3 trillion, the FCC reported.
With the 2015 revision proposition of the “net neutrality clause,” which allows ISPs to control aspects of website speeds and accessibility, people such as Columbia Area Career Center computer science teacher Patrick Sasser fear that free internet may be in grave danger and urges people to go against the changes.
“I don’t think there has been enough backlash as a matter of fact. Muddled in the language of Net Neutrality are significant changes that will impact the individuals, and not enough people are aware or just don’t care because they think it won’t impact them,” Sasser said. “People are so apathetic and just accept what is given to them; [for instance,] 62 percent of Americans get all their news from social media, [according to Pew Research statistics]. Net Neutrality can be a top-down approach where the user could be funneled/forced to use certain sites. Oftentimes when dealing with the Internet, speed is the name of the game. Users want information now and will drop a website from sites they use if it isn’t fast enough, no matter how good the product is. An ISP could slow sites down to such a trudge that you would be forced to use other sites. These ISPs can be financially compensated to put virtually any site into the ‘fast’ lane.”

With this freedom to control sites and increase prices according to service packaging, junior Bailey Long fears for her ability to afford decent internet in her home and is trepidatious of what content may or may not be blocked.
“I see [the net neutrality changes] being harder for my family to buy everything we need with the new changes to the internet ‘packs,” Long said. “We will be fine, just have to cut back on other things to have the essential.”
The proposition of this revision has left citizens, internet communities and companies furious. People have gone so far as to threaten the lives of FCC chairman Ajit Pai and his family over net neutrality, leading to the arrest of a Sacramento man who left a violently threatening voicemail. With a large amount of backlash, the FCC claims with more than a million supporters of the new revision, the current regulations of the internet “appears to have put at risk online investment and innovation, threatening the very open Internet it purported to preserve.” With that rational, their goal, they write, is to “reinstate the ‘information service,’ restore the determination that mobile broadband is not a ‘commercial mobile service’ subject to heavy-handed regulation, and to restore the authority of the nation’s most experienced cop on the privacy beat – the Federal Trade Commission – to police the privacy practices of ISPs.”
With the legal jargon involved, junior Sarah Kacem claims that as long as her usual routine is undisturbed, the rest is unimportant to her.
“I don’t really think [changing net neutrality] matters because as long as I can access the internet or whatever I want, the speed doesn’t really matter,” Kacem said.
Despite indifference by many and the FCC’s optimistic goals, Sasser believes these additional regulations are redundant, harmful and a cause to petition against.
“The internet is currently not broken. There is a level playing field, one of the few avenues where a level playing field can be achieved,” Sasser said. “It is one of the few places where the little guy can compete with the larger established companies. We don’t need to make any changes to it.”