Net neutrality

It’s probably too late to stop the repeal of Net Neutrality.

People don’t have to be working in such fields as website management to be concerned about the future of the Internet, as protests over plans to end Net Neutrality show.

Republicans on the Federal Communication Commission plan to do away with rules that require Internet Service Providers to treat all Internet traffic the same. Those efforts have been backed by telecom companies such as Verizon and Comcast.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai claims Net Neutrality requirements stifle investment in improving Internet service. Wired reports:

In its proposal to repeal the rules, which were enacted in 2015, the FCC cites industry-funded studies concluding that investment in internet infrastructure declined 3 percent in 2015 and another 2 percent in 2016. The proposal also claims that internet providers delayed new offerings, such as home-wireless plans or streaming video services.

But the nation’s largest internet provider actually increased its spending during this period, as did several other companies. Others cut spending, but said the drops stemmed from completion of longer-term plans. The shifts highlight the challenge of determining the cause and effect of spending changes, which reflect corporate need, technological change, cost-saving innovation, and shareholder pressures, as well as regulations.

Net neutrality repeal proposals have sparked protests by people concerned about the push to end the free Internet. Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democrats on the five-person commission, outlined for Recode some of the reasons people support net neutrality:

Speaking with Kara Swisher and Lauren Goode, Rosenworcel — one of the two Democrats on the five-person commission, and an opponent of the repeal — said neutrality rules prevent internet service providers from blocking websites or slowing access to some sites to make others more appealing.

That fairness, she argued, is why the internet economy has grown so much since the first net neutrality rules were put in place under President George W. Bush in the mid-2000s.

“These were not policies that had a Democratic or a Republican tint to them,” Rosenworcel said. “They were just based on this idea that the internet should be open and you can go where you want and do what you want.”

But despite widespread opposition, the FCC will almost certainly do away with Net Neutrality, as the New York Times reports: “Mr. Pai and his two Republican colleagues have committed to passing the proposal at the agency’s meeting next Thursday, in what would be a 3-to-2 party-line vote. Mr. Pai, who was nominated as chairman by President Trump, has said that the rules are unnecessary and that market forces would prevent internet service providers, like AT&T and Verizon, from blocking or slowing sites.”

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