Battle for Net neutrality
FOR all its shortcomings, the Internet has always been a free and open space for many but a single ruling threatens to curb the freedom it offers.
Google, Facebook, Netflix and Twitter were among the 80,000 top organisations that joined the “Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality” to denounce the proposed changes by the head of US Federal Communications Commision (FCC) Ajit Pai.
Implemented under President Barack Obama’s administration, Net neutrality keeps broadband providers in check, whereby they cannot discriminate or unfairly support certain Internet services over others.
In 2015 the courts ruled that under Title II of the Communications Act, the FCC has the authority to ensure that Internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon cannot block, throttle or otherwise interfere with web traffic.
Title II maintains the Internet’s level playing field, which allows users to share and access any information they want.
But Pai, appointed by US President Donald Trump in January, is pushing to discredit Title II and allow giant telecom corporations to control the free and open Internet in the United States.
Of course, many Americans – and others from the rest of the world – are not having it.
Web inventor and founder Tim Berners-Lee, published a short video on Web Foundation saying, “If we lost Net neutrality, we lose the Internet as we know it.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated “Right now, the FCC has rules in place to make sure the Internet continues to be an open platform for everyone. At Facebook, we strongly support those rules.”
So why is Net neutrality important? Well, without it, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) could potentially divide the Internet into fast and slow lanes. And an unscrupulous ISP could purposely slow down its competitors’ content or shut down sites whose political opinion differs.
This could mean that social movements may be hindered, or disruptive technology suppressed at its infancy. There would also be nothing to stop the ISPs from charging extra fees to the content companies in exchange for faster access and other preferential treatment.
This could advertently relegate others, in particular smaller businesses, to a slower tier of service.
Google in its official blog post said, “Thanks in part to Net neutrality, the open Internet has grown to become an unrivalled source of choice, competition, innovation, free expression and opportunity. And it should stay that way.”
Net neutrality maintains the Internet’s level playing field, which allows users to share and access any information they want. — 123rf.com