Is it too late to save the internet?
By KATELYN ROBERTS
It’s a place we go when we’re in need of information, communication, advice, entertainment, news, humor, attention, help: the internet.
Despite internet bills’ insanely expensive prices, and my strong desire for free Wi-Fi everywhere (knowledge is power), the internet may become less accessible in the very near future, thanks to the Federal Communications Commission, an agency of the U.S. government created to regulate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable, and their impending decision to end net neutrality.
If you haven’t paid attention to the FCC in the past, the term “net neutrality” may be new to you. What has become a buzzword particularly within the last few months is now more an urgent news topic than a trending term. The FCC will vote to end net neutrality rules next week, “despite an unresolved court case that could strip away even more consumer protections,” according to Ars Technica’s senior IT reporter, Jon Brodkin.
Net neutrality means that ISPs cannot slow down services, block content or create fast lanes for particular sites, just like phone companies cannot check who a customer is speaking with and block the service of the call.
Those who are pro-internet regulation argue that consumers will be protected through the Federal Trade Commission and companies won’t jack up prices for certain websites and streaming providers (or make their services speedier through their own internet services AKA “fast lanes”), but looking at recent history, this is unlikely.
On March 3, 2005, the FCC fined Madison River Communications, an internet service provider in North Carolina, for preventing its subscribers from using a voiceover internet protocol that competed with the company’s own voice calling service.
On Sept. 18, 2012, AT&T chose to block Apple’s FaceTime service for users unless their subscribers paid for a “Mobile Share” plan.
Verizon, itself, even said that the FCC’s Open Internet rules were the only thing keeping the company from charging websites.
The future is dark for a free and open internet, and at at time where both technology and capitalism rule, what else is to expect?
For those confused on the topic, here’s a handy list of definitions and a timeline on what we knew and now know about one of our favorite places, the world wide web.