Under the Obama administration, internet service providers cannot intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content. These regulations are in jeopardy on Dec. 14th when the the Federal Communications Commission votes on keeping or abolishing net neutrality rules.
Net Neutrality is the principle that all ISPs cannot discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application or method of communication.
Even though the vote has not yet happened, experts are confident that the vote will come to 3-2 against net neutrality with the deciding vote coming from the FCC chairman and former Verizon Wireless Counsel, Ajit Pai.
Pai was appointed to FCC Chairman by President Donald Trump on Jan. 23. This year’s vote would not be the first time that net neutrality rules are in danger of being repealed.
In USTelecomm v FCC, the lawsuit argued that the FCC had overstepped their authority and called for a full repeal of net neutrality rules. The U.S Court of Appeals denied the request and upheld its decision in favor of Net Neutrality.
Conservatives and industry advocates oppose the rules because they reclassified broadband (any internet connection that is always on and is faster than traditional dial-up) as a telecommunications service rather than an information service — a shift that moved the industry under the FCC’s jurisdiction and opened it up to tougher regulations.
Alex Wheeler, computer science junior and a member of Student Foundation, said he believes net neutrality is important because without it, connection speed to certain websites and services will be throttled in favor of others.
“Essentially, money would determine which sites/services you can use, or at least use conveniently,” Wheeler said. “An even bigger issue with this is how most ISPs (internet service providers) already have local monopolies in many areas all over the US, especially in smaller, low-population areas, limiting our options further. And those options would be determined by money.”
Big name companies such as Netflix and Amazon will be able to pay ISPs for faster content delivery. In turn, those companies that can’t afford to pay for fast delivery would get slower delivery and may not have the capability of reaching their target audiences.
ISPs would be able to bundle internet services in the same way that cable does for TV. ISPs could bundle popular sites such as Amazon and Netflix with less popular sites, if you pay for a Netflix bundle you might be forced to use only Bing as your search engine.
Websites that don’t have the luxury of turning to big money, such as alternative news providers, non-profit organizations, community organizers and activists will be unable to keep up with big companies and their advertising spending war chests.
The FCC is an independent agency, meaning that it can’t be swayed by the Executive branch, however, the FCC does act as a quasi-legislative arm and can be influenced by Congress and its constituents.
Residents of San Marcos can contact Rep. Lloyd Doggett or Rep. Lamar Smith and Sen. Ted Cruz or Sen. John Cornyn, to voice their preference on Net Neutrality