*** February 23, 2018 Updated: Only 60 days now remain for the final judgement when the FCC would repeal the 2015 Net Neutrality rules that have protected our rights to free and open Internet for many years. Today, the FCC has officially published the final rulings, labelled as Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which although won’t be effective immediately but has given us enough time to make the last stand and fight for the future of the Internet.

With the FCC’s official publication rolled out, we can now expect lawsuits from prominent organizations such as Internet Association, Mozilla and other public groups and states against the repeal. After all, it was pre-decided by the FCC that the lawsuits would be entertained until after 10 days of the official publication.

Let’s wait no further and join hands to fight the Net Neutrality repeal. ***

 

November 29, 2017 Update: Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with a vote of 3-2, repealed the Net Neutrality protections that barred ISPs like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon from paid prioritization, blocking, and throttling of all internet traffic.

The internet is a place where everyone expects to enjoy privacy, freedom, and anonymity. Whatever searches we make on a search engine or the web pages we visit every day are personal, and we obviously do not want strangers to start controlling our internet experience.

However, the debate against Net Neutrality would lead exactly to that stage where strangers will be able to monitor our data. Internet speeds will be throttled, websites will be limited or blocked, and the costs of accessing content will soar beyond imagination.

Arguments against net neutrality

What is Net Neutrality, Exactly?

Net Neutrality, also referred to as the Open Internet, is a principle that prohibits ISPs from speeding up, slowing down, or blocking any content on the internet. Net Neutrality gives users the freedom they want and deserve as they browse through web pages, apps or any other content available on the internet.

The internet has always had Net Neutrality. However, there are some countries that do not support this principle, and ISPs in these countries control the major part of people’s experiences on the internet. Unfortunately, the US also plans to follow in the footsteps of these countries thanks to the new FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai.

Only recently, the Net Neutrality rules received a significant boost thanks to millions of activists who pressured the FCC to keep the internet free and open. The new Net Neutrality rules were passed in 2015, strengthening our control over the internet. However, the new FCC chairman plans to revert these changes as soon as he can.

Here’s a video to help you better understand Net Neutrality and what it entails:

As we saw during the Broadband crisis, two different sections of people emerged supporting either side of the argument. Some say that the recent Net Neutrality rules are essential to our freedom. Others disagree. For the neutrals, I’ve compiled together arguments against and for Net Neutrality so you may decide for yourself as to who is right and who is wrong.

Arguments Against and For Net Neutrality in 2017

Debate Supporting Net Neutrality Rules

It is a basic human right

Net Neutrality is the guiding principle of the internet. It preserves our right to browse freely and communicate openly over the internet.

Net Neutrality enables and protects free speech. It forces ISPs to provide us with open networks and disallows any discrimination against an application or content which rides over that network. Just as your cellular network shouldn’t decide who you can or cannot call, ISPs shouldn’t interfere with what you can or cannot do on the internet.

Without Net Neutrality, ISPs will be allowed to carve the internet into fast and slow lanes. They can slow down or block any content posted by their rival company or political organization. ISPs can even start charging extra fees from companies to offer preferential treatment, relegating all others to a slower level of service. These actions will surely destroy the open nature of the internet.

The Internet will never be the same without them

The internet would be a completely different place if it weren’t for the Net Neutrality rules. Without Net Neutrality, it will be no different than that crappy cable TV service which shows a limited number of channels, all with bad picture quality.

Unlike the open internet which paved the way for so much innovation, people will be forced to use a closed down network. Only cable and phone companies will have the power to call the shots and decide which websites or applications be given the right to be accessed by their users.

Furthermore, ISPs like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast will be able to decide who is heard and who isn’t. They could block or slow down access to any websites that bad-mouth or compete with their own offerings.

And as if that wasn’t enough, they will be able to split the internet into different packages or bundles, a model which has worked well for cable companies over the years, meaning you will have to pay more to access the sites or services you want.

It is crucial for online social movements

Without Net Neutrality in place, activists won’t be able to raise their voice against oppression. Social movements will easily diminish and people won’t be able to connect with one another as easily as they do now.

The open internet allows people to share their stories and organize themselves for justice. When activists bring out thousands of people at short notice, this is because there is no big brother sitting in the back slowing down or blocking their movements.

Mainstream media usually follows its own interests and instincts, and no longer represent the thoughts of general public. Open and free internet is the only way for people to support and promote a cause, and make sure that it can be shared with the masses.

It is important for small businesses and startups

Net Neutrality is crucial for small businesses and startups that rely on the open internet to launch their businesses, create markets, advertise their products and connect with customers. It further helps in fostering job growth, competition and innovation.

Net Neutrality lowers the barriers to entry by making sure that the internet remains fair and the playing field level for all competitors. Net Neutrality helps small businesses and entrepreneurs in competing and thriving online.

Today, ISPs are the internet’s gatekeepers, and with no Net Neutrality, they would seize every possible opportunity to profit from that gatekeeping position.

Debate Against Net Neutrality Rules

It gives the government more control over the Internet

There are many who argue that if Net Neutrality were to go into effect, then the government would have the right to monitor the broadband connections of cable and telecom companies.

Writing in Forbes, entrepreneur Joshua Steimie warns, “Don’t be surprised if that means the government needs to be able to install its own hardware and software at critical points to monitor Internet traffic. Once installed, can we trust this government, or any government, to use that access in a benign fashion?”

It will disrupt growth and investment

The internet today is a free market, and enforcing Net Neutrality would be like the government impeding the freedom of this market. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, argues that regulating the internet like a utility is dumb. “Imposing regulations designed for century-old utilities will only choke off growth and investment,” the group reasons.

Former FCC Chairman and NCTA president, Michael Powell, agrees with the group saying that if the FCC is given power over the regulating rates for broadband would “fracture confidence that our national broadband policy rests squarely on a light regulatory foundation. Network investment would suffer, and the push to reach more households would slow.”

More than $1 trillion have so far been invested in the Internet since the ’90s, Powell argues, and the federal government has had a very light touch. The internet has also spread to almost 99% of homes in America without the help of the government. If the government impedes now, it will produce harmful consequences.

It wouldn’t have the intended effect

This argument was put forth by David Cohen, Comcast’ EVP at the MoffettNathanson Media and Communications summit in 2014. He stated, “There is nothing in Title II that provides authority for saying that all [Web] services have to be treated the same.”

That is to say even if the internet is treated as a utility like electricity or water, for example, cable companies would still be able to introduce tiered pricing for better internet speeds and service, defeating the very purpose of Net Neutrality.

It would spur more investment in the ISP sector

FCC’s Chairman Pai argues that abolishing Net Neutrality would lead to more investment in the Internet Service Provider sector, allowing these providers to develop and roll out new services. This could translate into more competition, potentially benefiting consumers and increasing the number of Americans with access to the internet.

However, it’s worth noting that with competition among ISPs poor in most locations in the US, it’s very likely consumers won’t have much choice in terms of the ISP they can use and hence they wouldn’t be the biggest beneficiaries of eliminating net neutrality.

Final Words

Net Neutrality is the key to freedom and fair competition on the internet, and its repeal would not only result in irreparable damage to consumers, but also everyone in almost every industry. The debate against Net Neutrality and for Net Neutrality will continue as time passes, but we just might not have enough time to actually do something about it.

Despite the arguments against the principle, I believe that ISPs shouldn’t have the right to decide the websites we can access, what online stores we can shop at, or which streaming services we can use. That is merely my opinion, however. Be sure to voice your thoughts about the Net Neutrality debate in the comments section below and at the respective forums!

Sheheryar Ahmed Khan is a privacy enthusiast, currently affiliated with PureVPN. His reporting covers subjects related to online privacy, anonymity, and security. Also a believer in online freedom, Sheheryar likes to spend his free time streaming football matches and TV shows online.

13 Comments

  1. Jay says:

    Companies need to pay the ISP, not the consumers. In this case, I am against net neutrality even though I am a consumer. Then again I don't use the Internet much anyways.

    • Jay says:

      Companies like Facebook and Twitter should pay a fee to the ISP.

    • Arvidd says:

      Were net neutrality to be struck down, the argument that commercial outfits such as Facebook and Twitter should pay to support ISPs, and users have access free, would have some traction. But I would rather keep the net neutral and buy my own ISP.

  2. Dan says:

    2 things:

    1) Since when is bandwidth or even internet access a basic human right? What are you smoking?

    2) Thought this would be an objective discussion. Not! Completely one sided view under a pretense/title made to look objective. Okay for you to have your opinions, but I'm looking for info to make up my own mind.

  3. david odiorne says:

    In December 1995 the number of users was up to 16 million, and December 2017, the number skyrocket to3,885 million. That’s 51.7% of the world population. The number of web sites at the time of copulation of this document is1,296,798,000 and climbing according to internetlivestats.com.

    There is a sunken treasure. Its’ beneficial to both students and instructors. It is a bounty of poetry that allows poets to share ideas and thoughts for free. Prose (and nonfiction) publishing allows the writer to express themselves with little government interferences.

    There was a time when you submit a piece of literature you must seal it in an envelope and mail it out. The digital version could get you out of the notorious slush pile. The slush pile is a pile of submission where can get deep enough to be overwhelming since most decent magazines publishers deal with thousands of applications a month. Internet content most of the same material (and most of the time more) in a brick and mortar library. Some of the users of libraries cannot get to a library because they have no means of getting to it during hours of business.) Once Pitching ideas was, like submitting literature. It makes it easier to get that manuscript into the hands of an agent and publisher.

    Web based publishing sites are easy to setup (compared to physical media). There’re numerous sites, and that makes it difficult to miss. According to https://www.statista.com/statistics/250520/forecast-of-amazon-web-services-revenue/ Web based commerce by quarter started in quarter 1 of 2014 at 1050(in millions) and is currently 4584 as of quarter 3 of 2017. Web based service includes ancestry reports, translations, grammar check, dating services and web based search engines. Most of these are provides service for “free” because they get paid by advertisements.

    There are sites that provide the products of creativity and material and inspiration for forming these products of imagination. The internet is a great soap boxes when campaigning for public office. It is also a good way to supercharge grassroot agenda. Social based web services like Facebook and twitter make it possible (maybe the only way) to keep up with old acquaintances and make new ones. Twitter hosts opinion posts by commander and chief, Donald Trump. I hope he realizes that although clever, this forum will be on the chopping block if the internet providers prioritize traffic on its network.

    In closing I would like to say the internet is buzzing with activity that would turn into a waist land. It benefits art, science, learning, opinion and comrade both new and just befriended. The internet is a innovation that marvels only the printing press where books were hand written and a luxury only the rich could afford. Don’t make the internet a luxury for the few. Make it attainable for the masses. Take the step foreword in technology not three steps back.

  4. Brent Richard says:

    Net Neutrality by the government is not neutral at all. Keep government out of the internet and let the free market control the internet. That will give us all a better faster more open internet. Just think of the DMV, anytime the government tries run things, they make it slower, and harder to use.

  5. Charles says:

    I'm against net neutrality because:

    1) Whenever the government gets involved, they screw stuff up and add all sorts of bogus taxes which raise my bill

    2) The Internet worked just fine before Obama decided the Internet needed more regulation

    3) If you want a faster speed, pay for the faster speed.

    Net Neutrality did NOTHING for me but add bandwidth caps, additional taxes and restrictions on how I can use my internet.

    • jennie says:

      it’s horrifying how confused you are (based on your comments). wow – just wow

      • Corey says:

        This article is clearly one sided and not an objective view of the discussion. As someone earlier said, people come here looking for information to help see both sides of the argument so they can make up their own mind. That was my purpose on clicking on this article. You say Charles is horribly confused, but you provide no support for your statement. Please, back up your statement because right now your comment is meaningless.

      • Robert says:

        Gosh, Jennie, you’re so articulate. Please explain how he’s confused…just gosh.

        Does the government typically make things better?
        Was the internet broken and not working before 2014?
        What’s wrong with paying for a better service?

  6. Bryan Schultz says:

    "The internet has always had net neutrality". Interesting statement. Could you back that up?

  7. Mark says:

    can’t really expect to get the other side’s view accurately, if the author is on not neutral.

  8. Dave says:

    Europe has net neutrality, and they’re influencing social media (Facebook) to block conservative opinion (mostly re the spread of Islam). The Left knows it will control the (US) government again, so they want NN. IMO, the solution is competition — perhaps some incentification (spelling?). Kinda sucks to have only one or two providers in an area.

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