Why Do We Need Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is a term first used by Tim Wu, a media law professor of Columbia University. It is the concept that internet service providers should regard all media and content equally. This includes being unable to block sites and users, slow down traffic or charge more for certain platforms. Users are still able to modify what content they are exposed to and filtration of sensitive content is still in place for minors. These regulations exist to prevent abuse and misuse.

In the past, we believed that open neutrality, where all resources are easily accessible for all audiences, is a right for everyone. But now when we receive or send data over the internet, new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are able to analyze and manipulate it. Telecom companies can program computers to interfere with traffic so that they increase profit, block competitors, and leverage opportunities to their advantage. Broadband telecommunication providers argue that by managing internet traffic, they’re creating a safer environment and protecting their users from promoted controversial agendas.

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Thanks to the Federal Trade Commission regulations, internet privacy and consumers’ security has been protected quite well for the past two decades. In 2005, the Bush-era FCC established four principles of open internet. These regulations are:

Consumers deserve access to the lawful internet content of their choice.

Consumers should be allowed to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of the government.

Consumers should be able to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.

Consumers deserve to choose their network providers, application and service providers and content providers of choice.

Although these regulations existed, they, unfortunately, were not reinforced or official. This was until FCC approved Open Internet on December 21, 2010, after FCC representative Julius Genachowski added that internet service providers can not discriminate against content in any way. The Open Internet Order follows three specific rules: transparency, no blocking, no unreasonable discrimination. These regulations are extremely strict with landline broadband providers but are more flexible and lenient with wireless providers.

Without net neutrality being enforced, our right of expression and privacy would be violated and overlooked. The internet is the first technological advancement that makes it possible for anyone to express themselves openly and without limits on a global stage.

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