Updated: Nov. 7, 2018
On Thursday, December 14, 2017, the course of the fate of the Internet was altered indefinitely.
The Federal Communications Commission has voted to officially repeal the “net neutrality” regulations put in place during the administration of former President Barack Obama in 2015.
What is net neutrality?
Net Neutrality regulations essentially dubbed high-speed Internet connectivity as a commodity similar to electricity — deeming broadband service as a utility, and considering it a staple to modern communication and ultimately daily life as well. They gave the typical Internet user total control of their browsing and Internet use experience, their service provider allowing them access to whatever website or application content they wanted to connect to rather than having the ability to block or charge higher rates for connection to particular Internet companies. Put simply, net neutrality ensured the right to communicate and access information freely online.
What’s happening now?
Now that the net neutrality regulations are out of the picture, Internet provider companies can decide what content we can and cannot access on their broadband. They have the power to slow and even prohibit users’ access to pages promoting competing companies, minority/sexuality activism communities and organizations, and political content that the provider disagrees with, as well as charging a higher fee to Internet companies who want to be on a high-speed connectivity broadband.
The decision will certainly take a few weeks to go into effect, and it already has major companies and Internet services (such as Netflix and Twitter) preparing to sue and submit bills for the nullification of the repeal and the re-implementation of net neutrality regulations.
Why is this happening?
Major broadband companies like Comcast and AT&T have argued relentlessly against the net neutrality regulations, claiming that preventing them from charging different premiums for different levels of Internet speed and access is a matter of unnecessary government intrusion on their business. Additionally, the conservative President Trump administration has been making huge strides in rolling back government regulations since day one, opening the door of opportunity for the FCC to make its move against the net neutrality regulations.
How is this affecting you?
If the price of high-speed broadband connectivity increases, fewer and fewer small businesses will be able to afford to advertise themselves fairly on the same ground as big-budget companies, getting stuck in the slow lane of low-speed Internet broadband that they can afford. All companies will have to pay a fee simply to have their website reach Internet users at all. On an even smaller scale, it will be much easier for high income households to afford high-speed Internet connectivity than it will be for middle- and low-income households, which has the potential to affect the employment of mid-low income citizens who need to work from home via the Internet.
Ultimately, the repealing of net neutrality regulations can potentially decrease the amount of advancement opportunities presented to small businesses as well as to the average working person.
A massive surge of disapproval accompanied by numerous legal moves immediately followed the repealing of net neutrality. How will small businesses get any exposure if they can’t advertise on the same broadband as renowned corporations? Who can you trust? Where will the Internet go from here?
Without the protection of net neutrality regulations, many of our questions will remain up in the air until the full effect of the repeal hits us square in the modem.