CON: An internet for the future

A dystopian society with powerful corporations in control of the internet; this is what many people imagined when they heard about the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules. However, the internet will still be the same content-filled place you’ve always known and loved, just with faster speeds and more innovation.

Two years ago, the FCC, under the Obama administration, reclassified internet access as a Title II communication service, making it a public utility and placing it under government  control. This prevented Internet Service Providers from restricting either speed or access to online content. The recent repeal reversed this decision, but created a “transparency rule” in which ISPs must alert consumers before making these changes. As a result of the repeal, massive amounts of misguided outrage was generated by the internet community as false images of website “packages” and internet “plans” circulated.

Under Title II, each time a new technology or business model was proposed by ISPs, it had to be submitted to the FCC and subjected to questioning and a lengthy approval process, severely discouraging innovation.

Paid priority allows content providers to pay extra to ISPs to have their content delivered faster under the new policy. Logically, the sites utilizing this would need to be in high demand, as they would need to be able to afford the cost of paid priority. This is seen as unfair and anti-competitive by many in support of net neutrality, as certain content is given more bandwidth than others. However, more people would be given a better internet experience because the most frequented websites would be faster.

When net neutrality was in effect, the only way for consumers to enjoy faster speeds was by paying for an entire new internet plan instead of for specific sites. Although the cost of using paid priority sites may go up in the form of higher subscription fees or more advertisements, consumers will be paying for those sites specifically instead of all internet content.

There are also many open-internet protections in place to prevent ISPs from abusing power. Title II regulations prohibited the Federal Trade Commission from protecting consumers from ISPs. After the appeal, the FTC now has the power to take action against ISPs, whether they are engaging in deceitful behavior or violating privacy and data protections.

Federal antitrust and state consumer-protection laws will also apply. The Sherman Act, for example, renders anti-competitive agreements illegal. A state attorney general can bring actions against ISPs as well, acting as another blockade for unfair business practice.

As of now, the internet will be essentially the same as it was a year ago. However, the effects of the repeal over time on both consumers and providers will be a net positive.