What’s going on with Net Neutrality?

By Staff Writer Tim Howard.

Do you recall all of the memes about Ajit Pai? Well if you don’t, let me aid you. He is the Chairman of the Federal Communication Commision. Pai has the power of oversight over most pieces of technology that transmit signals. All technology companies selling such devices in the United States must have their technology examined and approved by the FCC.

Hence, you can always see the FCC logo on the back of most phones (or their respective boxes) and/or the any other piece of tech that was purchased in the U.S.

Thus Ajit Pai has the immense power to determine the rules those devices, and the services they provide, must abide by. Pai was appointed to the role by President Trump, and not long after that began, he began working to deregulate the free and fair use regulations that the internet had then been constrained by.

Long story short, Pai successfully deregulated the internet via revoking net neutrality rules and was soon lambasted across social media for his decision.

The concept of removing net neutrality would allow corporations who provide access to the internet (Verizon, AT&T etc.) to set the speed at which data could be downloaded arbitrarily. This, in theory, was going to result in corporations exacting a cost for fast internet download speeds and preferential treatment to websites that paid whatever fee they were surely going to impose.

Beyond extra cost, there would be grave social, political, and economic implications to a biased, corporate controlled internet.

How many of the people reading this article would read an online news story if it took three minutes to download? How many of you would sign an anti-corruption petition if it took fifteen minutes to send your information? How many of you would watch a video on YouTube if that video buffered every thirty seconds. If I had to guess, I’d say no one. Yet… this dreaded future has not yet come to pass.

In the year and change since Net Neutrality was removed, nothing has really changed for the internet ecosystem. If that’s the case then this issue is over, right?

So, “what is the Save The Internet Act for?’, you may be wondering. The “Save the Internet Act”, introduced by Rep. Michael Doyle (D-PA), is aimed at restoring net neutrality rules. It wants to prevent a future in which the internet is stymied in grotesque ways like the ones mentioned above. Objectively the target of this legislation is to prevent a future in which the internet is abused by individuals for mischievous reasons.

The entire quagmire can be prevented if this bill becomes law. The internet reverts to its older rules, and no one can game the system. However, no one has thus far. Those advocating for the preservation of net neutrality rules argued that the internet would have been completely and utterly destroyed by this point in time.

No one is quite sure why this hasn’t happened, but the common perception (and the one I subscribe to) is that internet providers fear that once they begin messing with people’s internet speeds for profit, rather than switch websites, they will switch internet companies. Therefore, the financial incentive to constrain the internet is not a big enough reward against the threat of losing paying customers.

As a result, no action has yet been taken. However, one has to wonder with the advent of 5G if rather than throttle internet speeds, internet companies will selectively choose which websites get ultra-fast wifi and which remain the same. And there you have the necessity of the Save the Internet Act.


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