Politics

New Net Neutrality Plan Is A Bad Idea

| by Mark Jones

Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai's plan to rollback net neutrality restrictions does not make any sense and should be actively worked against.

According to CNN, back in 2015, the FCC created rules upholding net neutrality. USA today defines net neutrality as "the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, without favoring some sources or blocking others." 

In short, this means that ISPs cannot censor content from certain sites, nor can they charge content providers extra for faster delivery of their content. 

In order for the government to regulate them, ISPs were classified as common carriers (in a similar fashion to telephone service providers) by the FCC under Title II back in 2015. This classification has made it easier for the government to ensure that ISPs do not engage in any actions that would infringe upon the principle of net neutrality. 

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Pai's new plan, however, would repeal the Title II classification, according to CNN. 

"Two years ago, I warned that we were making a serious mistake," Pai said in a speech regarding the changes on April 26. "The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you're likely to get."

Pai's plan to do away with Title II is extremely troubling. According to CNN, the plan does not clearly address how the FCC would be able to regulate ISPs without the presence of Title II. In addition, Pai's above statement regarding the merits of net neutrality is objectively incorrect and shows that he does not understand how important its existence is to our society. 

Rather than limiting the content that internet users have access to, net neutrality has allowed the free creation and exploration of ideas on the internet. For example, according to The New York Times, net neutrality is important because it "has sheltered bloggers, nonprofit organizations like Wikipedia, smaller tech companies, TV and music streamers, and entrepreneurs from being throttled by providers like AT&T and Verizon that own the 'pipes.'" 

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In a world without net neutrality -- which would surely result from Pai's proposed changes -- content creators would have to pay for their content to be delivered to internet users at reasonable speeds. Up-and-coming sites would therefore not stand a chance against others that were already well-established. This would greatly limit the creation of new websites and services, something that has been of great advantage to internet users over the past two decades. Without net neutrality, sites like Netflix probably would not exist. 

The implications of Pai's plan have already been felt by startup companies who have garnered success due to the existence of net neutrality. Following Pai's announcement, a group of more than 800 startups -- including popular sites such as Etsy -- sent him a letter objecting to his plan. 

"Our companies should be able to compete with incumbents on the quality of our products and services, not our capacity to pay tolls to Internet access providers," said part of the letter, according to The Verge. 

The writers of the letter are, of course correct. Internet users should be able to make their own decisions about which sites merit their traffic, and should be able to do so free of influences by large companies. For this reason, it is incredibly important that Pai's plan to roll back the FCC's 2015 protections of net neutrality should be strongly opposed.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: CNN, USA Today, The Verge, The New York Times / Photo credit: EFF Photos/Flickr

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