The Fight on Net Neutrality

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Dawn Sawyer
Greater Atlanta Christian School

The law that has protected the public’s free Internet and freedom of speech for two years, in the form of net neutrality, has been repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) after a vote held in December 2017.

“Repealing net neutrality was a huge mistake by the FCC and the Trump administration. Consistently, polls have shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans favor net neutrality. That being said, the repeal only benefits large companies that make millions off of this reversal, rather than benefiting the consumers.” Joe Dennis says on the repeal of net neutrality.

The Open Internet Act of 2015, also known as net neutrality, authorized the FCC to regulate laws pertaining to broadbands and encouraging a free Internet. However, because of net neutrality’s inability to promote competition and innovation among providers, people came against the policy. The repeal that followed this opposition enables providers to censor content and requiring extra fees for supreme service. Adopted under former President Barack Obama, the original net neutrality act continues to be largely advocated for by a large majority of Democrats, who have continued to fight for a return to the days of net neutrality.  

Fueling this conflict between parties was the way net neutrality influenced how companies had worked to improve their services. According to adversaries of the act, the act had done little to encourage providers to expand their services into unusual places that are often overlooked.

“My concern is that, by imposing those heavy-handed economic regulations on internet service providers big and small, we could end up disincentivizing companies from wanting to build out internet access to a lot of parts of the country, in low-income, urban and rural areas,” Ajit Pai of the Republican party says in an April 27 interview with PBS.

Although we will not see the effects of the repeal immediately, with net neutrality gone, many have made insightful predictions on the ripple effect that follows. Those in favor of the repeal believe it will encourage innovation among providers as a result of the competition that will surely form. However, competition, according to advocates for net neutrality, could result in a rich and poor internet where companies willing to pay extra fees imposed by providers will run the internet.

“If net neutrality is fully repealed, the internet will become more like TV with private companies and global conglomerates who would give out packages determining what you can access on the Internet, like a cable package,.” said Clarke Central student Alex Robinson, emphasizing his concern over the FCC decision.

As people begin to worry more about what this vote means for their future experiences online, those who helped get rid of the act make an effort to assure the public that nothing will change. They believe that Congress will pass laws to keep the internet an open place,  where freedom of speech is encouraged rather than controlled and censored by providers. Opposers of the repeal, however, see it as a huge risk to believe that the Republicans in office will advocate for a return to policies made under Obama’s presidency. Many also don’t believe they will fight for net neutrality rules when the majority of the party opposed it and favored the repeal.

Due to this disagreement, lawsuits against the FCC have been filed with the support of the Internet Association, such as Google and Netflix, who also oppose the repeal. Democrats have also  filed a petition for a new vote under the Congressional Review Act, which could end in a removal of the new rules voted for in December.

“Because this is an issue that affects almost every American, I don’t think the fight is over. Most Americans still want net neutrality and I think this will be a long battle.” Joe Dennis says on the effects of the repeal.

 

 

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