Lately, you may have heard mutterings of “Net Neutrality” throughout the net, but when you ask about it, all you get in return are varied opinions, unreliable definitions or a bunch of jargon that you can’t understand without a professional degree in software engineering.
That is why in this blog segment from Alura Business Solutions, we’re going to tell you about Net Neutrality, and why we think Net Neutrality is important in this day and age.
First, we’ll try and describe Net Neutrality in a nutshell.
Basically, “Net Neutrality” prohibits Internet Service Providers, or ISP’s from controlling and ordering the types of content their users can access online. Instead, ISP’s are obliged by the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, to treat all traffic sources equally.
This still needs some explaining, we’re sure. Let’s use Comcast as an example. One of Comcast’s affiliates is NBC; common knowledge to many. However, Comcast is not allowed to solely provide access to NBC to their subscribers; subscribers must be able to choose from a wide variety of news providers. Net Neutrality is the FCC’s way to prevent ISPs from discriminating against which services receive traffic.
This is why we at Alura think Net Neutrality is so important—freedom of information and choice is paramount in a society with supposed freedom of access to the internet.
What do we do when companies offer different levels of internet availability without Net Neutrality? Will ISPs gain the ability to dictate what content their lesser-paying subscribers are entitled to?
Payment for an ISP should only affect bandwidth and quality of connection, not the type of content you’re permitted to view.
The people against Net Neutrality typically want to favor their sponsorships and feel they are entitled to market to the sites that specifically sponsor them, in order to support their business.
Because of the different opinions and guidelines surrounding the regulation of ISPs, the FCC put their foot down in 2010, creating the Open Internet Rules.
These rules enforced 3 things:
1) Transparency – Secrecy is not granted to ISPs in the area of network management—full disclosure to the FCC is necessary on all server and network management practices.
2) Blocking Prohibited – ISPs are unable to block access to content or applications that are legal, regardless of sponsorship or trademark.
3) Anti-Discrimination – Basically this is the concept of Net Neutrality. ISPs are prohibited from favoring one traffic source from another. For example, CBS versus MSN, versus NBC; all must be treated equally.
In the end, you are free to formulate your own opinions on Net Neutrality. If Net Neutrality falls, there’s a chance that consumers will lose control of the Internet and ISPs will be the masters of what products get marketed and sold to the public. However, it could also mean extra income streams and paid promotions which can lead to free or reduced price data plans, which could be nice.
However, we believe in freedom of access and the ability to openly express yourself. In a world without Net Neutrality, who makes the final decision on what you get to see? This decision should fall to the user themselves.
Hopefully this shed some light on the Net Neutrality debate for you. Next time somebody asks for Net Neutrality in plain English, feel free to educate them. Thank you for your time!