Net Neutrality

Protesters+fighting+to+save+net+neutrality+rally+outside+the+Verizon+store+on+Market+Street+in+San+Francisco%2C+Calif.%2C+Thursday%2C+Dec.+7%2C+2017.+Verizon+stores+across+the+country+were+sites+for+coordinated+protests+one+week+before+the+FCC+votes+on+the+net+neutrality+issue.+%28Karl+Mondon%2FBay+Area+News+Group%29
Protesters fighting to save net neutrality rally outside the Verizon store on Market Street in San Francisco, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Verizon stores across the country were sites for coordinated protests one week before the FCC votes on the net neutrality issue. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Protesters fighting to save net neutrality rally outside the Verizon store on Market Street in San Francisco, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Verizon stores across the country were sites for coordinated protests one week before the FCC votes on the net neutrality issue. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Bay Area News Group

Bay Area News Group

Protesters fighting to save net neutrality rally outside the Verizon store on Market Street in San Francisco, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Verizon stores across the country were sites for coordinated protests one week before the FCC votes on the net neutrality issue. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Lamisa Sheikh, Editor in Chief

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On Thursday, December 19th, the F.C.C. announced its decision to repeal Net Neutrality. But what does that mean for us, the average internet users?

Net neutrality was the policy that the Obama administration put into place in 2015, which required internet service providers to enable access to all content without slowing down or blocking specific products or sites. This in turn treated internet access as a utility.

According to fcc.gov, “Following detailed legal and economic analysis, as well as extensive examination of comments from consumers and stakeholders, the Commission reversed the F.C.C.’s 2015 heavy-handed utility-style regulation of broadband Internet access service, which imposed substantial costs on the entire Internet ecosystem.” The F.C.C. states that it has reverted to a “light touch frame work” with the ruling which they claim will protect consumers at less cost, and create a more favorable climate for network investment. As stated by the chairman of the F.C.C., Ajit Pai, all of which is supposed to drive competition and benefit consumers.

The repeal should take weeks to carry out and consumers will not see any direct changes immediately. Those opposing the decision claim that it will result in limitations to consumer internet access, and disadvantages to start-ups when compared to big businesses. For example, major companies may be able to pay for faster tiered internet service as long as they pay for it (paid prioritization), something that smaller companies and start-ups may not have the luxury of investing in.

Many reached out to government officials in the weeks leading up to the vote. Congressman Joe Kennedy states, “In August, I joined several of my colleagues in submitting comments to the FCC in strong opposition to the proposal to roll back Internet protections. I am particularly concerned with any ISP practices that could limit free speech or marginalize minority communities.”

And after reaching out to Elizabeth Warren, her strong views become very clear in her response. Warren wrote, “I believe that powerful companies should not decide how and when we use the internet.” She also discusses her actions to oppose the repeal by saying, “That’s why I have joined letters opposing the FCC’s efforts to undo net neutrality protections and requested that the FCC extend the period for the public to weigh in on its proposed rulemaking aimed at undoing the Open Internet Order. That is also why I voted against the nomination of Ajit Pai to serve as Chairman of the FCC.”

Warren, among other politicians say they will continue to pursue this issue, and we have also seen lawsuits start to emerge. Warren ended with her promise to “continue to fight for consumers’ interests in increasingly consolidated marketplaces, and to press federal regulators to use all of their tools to serve the public interest and promote competition so that consumers can have access to affordable, high-quality telecommunications services.”

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