In early 2018, the FCC repealed policies that President Obama had put in place in 2014. Net neutrality is the common name for a series of policies put in place to protect internet users and websites from unfairly imposed restrictions imposed by internet service providers. The repealing of net neutrality means that internet service providers can give preferential treatment to websites that pay to have faster speeds for their websites leaving smaller sites and sites with controversial content in the dust. Here are four ways net neutrality infringes on the equality of the internet.
While net neutrality does not prevent censorship in the traditional sense but, as mentioned above, internet service providers can decrease internet speeds for sites that do not pay them. This is a form of censorship, as any net neutrality article will tell you. The popular internet service provider AOL has already used this strategy to block emails that mention its competitors. With net neutrality no longer in effect, this kind of strategy is sure to become increasingly popular.
2. Additional Charges
Since net neutrality gives internet service providers the ability to block access to websites, that means that these service providers can also decide to allow access through a paywall. Once again, this kind of thing has already happened in multiple spheres of the internet. BellSouth, a company that is part of AT&T, is now making its customers pay extra money to enter certain chatrooms, and there is the potential that online gaming will soon face the same fate by being hidden behind extra paywalls.
3. Lack of Choice
Many large companies have deals with other large companies, and since almost all companies today have websites, internet service providers are in a position to have more inter-corporation deals than any other type of company. If an internet service provider has struck a deal with a particular company, the service provider can decide to deny access to a competitor of a company with which they have a partnership. Cingular Wireless, another company owned by AT&T, has cut off access to PayPal in favor of another company.
4. Promotes Monopolies
Internet service providers already have negative stereotypes around them for having monopoly-like qualities, and the new net neutrality laws are only exacerbating that perception. These incredibly powerful and incredibly few internet service providers now have an even greater capacity to gatekeep certain services, as mentioned above. All of the above points come together to create a monopoly, or something close to it, that has the potential to be harmful to the free market of the internet.
The controversy surrounds the repeal of net neutrality flared up when the news first broke, but the outrage has severely died down since then. However, the lack of outrage does not mean that the problems that the repeal has caused are any less present. If anything is going to change, people need to make their voices heard so that the Federal Communications Commission may decide to reverse its decision once again to keep the internet a free and open space.