Do we really need net neutrality rules?
via AP

Do we really need net neutrality rules?

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently announced a plan to eliminate net neutrality regulations, arguing they only stifle business innovation and kill jobs. Net neutrality advocates say the rules are necessary to preserve an open Internet. Companies shouldn't be able to pick winners and losers. What do you think? 🌐

The Votes Are In!

Pai, who is a vocal opponent of net neutrality, says the 2015 regulations which regulate ISPs similar to utilities are "heavy-handed" and were political in nature. Getting rid of the Obama-era regulations would bring the Internet back to the status quo. 

Other opponents of net neutrality say those regulations hurt American businesses by enforcing a one-size-fits-all solution to a problem that doesn't exist. There weren't any companies violating net neutrality rules to begin with. Critics say it will ultimately hurt innovation and American businesses.

Moreover, the net neutrality rules will stifle innovations in the marketplace that would otherwise benefit consumers, while also discouraging investment in the sorely-needed expansion of Internet infrastructure. The result, warns Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), will be higher costs for consumers, less accessibility for Internet users, and an open door to government regulation of political content on the Internet. The First Amendment threat posed by the FCC rules is not limited to political speech. Small ISPs that cater to various religious communities by blocking religiously objectionable Internet content run afoul of the net neutrality rules and may well be driven out of business by the FCC.

In his speech to the National Association of Broadcasters, Pai said current net neutrality rules were passed along political lines. Getting rid of them would not hurt the Internet, freedom of information, or anything really. Removing those regulations would restore the status quo and let the FCC make new and better rules.

No, it was all about politics. Days after a disappointing 2014 midterm election, and in order to energize a dispirited base, the White House released an extraordinary YouTube video instructing the FCC to implement Title II regulations. This was a transparent attempt to compromise the agency’s independence. And it worked.

Pai said net neutrality regulations have already hurt American businesses and destroyed jobs, although the figures he points to are in dispute.

"According to one estimate by the nonprofit Free State Foundation, Title II has already cost our country $5.1 billion in broadband capital investment," Pai said. "And given the multiplier effect from such spending, that means Title II has already cost our nation approximately 75,000 to 100,000 jobs." Pai was referring to this blog post.
Reversing the Title II decision "will bring high-speed Internet access to more Americans" because "without the overhang of heavy-handed regulation, companies will spend more building next-generation networks," Pai said. Eliminating Title II regulation of ISPs will also "create jobs" when Americans "go to work building these networks," he said.

Proponents of net neutrality say getting rid of the rules so ISPs can regulate themselves is a bad idea. Do you really trust Comcast, AT&T and other ISPs to get it right? As John Oliver says, net neutrality is about "preventing cable company fuckery."

Net neutrality ensures ISPs treat all data equally. That means companies can't prioritize YouTube data over Netflix data. The Internet has always worked this way. New, upstart companies are able to unseat established companies on the Internet because the web is a level playing field. Without net neutrality, ISPs gain the power of choosing who wins and loses on the Internet. Do you really want companies like Comcast to play that role? 

Mike Fahey at Kotaku writes:

Net neutrality isn't just about gamers, of course. The concept would keep companies from creating artificial scarcity for internet services, or offering premium services by simply slapping a price tag on services other internet operators provide for free.
As it stands right now, the internet is one of the last bastions of freedom left in the world. If the way we access the internet is allowed to be controlled too strongly, we risk losing that freedom. I'd really rather that not happen.

Pai is right, the Internet in its current form isn't broken. It's not broken because telecom companies are not allowed to ruin the Internet because of those net neutrality regulations. Without FCC oversight and regulation, we could see the end of the open Internet as we know it. 

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