Net neutrality repealed in Federal Communications Commission vote


Sophia Sun

Kevin Jacobson (‘19) stresses over the implications of the loss of net neutrality. His screen indicates the site he was trying to access was blocked by the School District of Elmbrook. Many fear this will also be the case with internet providers at home.

On Dec 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality in a 3-to-2 vote. This means that broadband companies that connect users to the internet may block certain websites or limit access to high-speed internet for consumers that pay an increased price. net neutrality was established by the Obama administration in 2015 in hopes of ensuring that Americans would receive access to the internet as the world becomes increasingly interconnected through the internet.

Those who support net neutrality have declared plans to sue the FCC to gain access to net neutrality once again. However, these lawsuits threaten to go on for many months before a verdict will be made. Net neutrality is the only guarantee that internet users have access to the free speech that America grants to all citizens. Without net neutrality, internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon have the discretion to decide which sites are allowed to be passed on to the consumer.

Those against net neutrality, lead by Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, argue that websites such as Netflix use huge amounts of data from internet providers to bring content to consumers, but the internet providers are the ones who have to pay the price for creating networks that can support these huge data transfers.
While the burden of paying for streaming videos on YouTube or making calls on Skype falls on the internet providers, the importance of free speech and unblocked access to all websites on the internet cannot be forgotten. Without net neutrality, new start-up sites are at risk for being squashed by big sites like Google or Facebook who may have the means to pay internet providers more for faster and higher-quality internet speeds. Therefore, start-ups will have to pay to reach internet users with funds that cannot compare to those of big companies like Google.

Net neutrality has been repealed, but many internet providers such as Verizon promise its users that internet services will not be affected and that users will have access to the same websites it always has had access to. However, these promises are not guarantees. More legal action must be taken to ensure that internet providers do not have the privilege of choosing which sites are promoted among internet consumers and which are not.