In January, the US Court of Appeals ruled that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) no longer had to adhere to fairness rules, known as Net Neutrality, when it came to how people connected to websites. The decision has stirred controversy on how it could lead to widespread internet censorship.
As NetworkWorld noted:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Columbia Circuit on Tuesday ruled that the FCC does not have the authority to implement the rules prohibiting broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web traffic. The FCC passed the net neutrality rules, also called open Internet rules, in December 2010, but Verizon Communications challenged them, saying Congress did not give the agency the authority to regulate broadband providers.
Under the new deregulated environment, ISPs become the gatekeepers on internet access and could charge extra fees for access to certain websites, or even block them completely if their owners refused to pay for more bandwidth. ISPs could also slow or block access to their competitors, or political sites that did not express views they agreed with. Regardless of whether internet traffic is influenced by additional fees or political ideology, it still equates to a form of censorship and discrimination against those who can’t afford to pay higher fees to access their favorite websites.
Lawmakers in Washington are divided on what the end of Net Neutrality could mean for the future without a fair and open internet, so on Monday, House Democrats introduced legislation called the Open Internet Preservation Act.
However, the bill has little chance of passing since Republicans support ending Net Neutrality rules.
In the end, the consumer will be on the losing end of pay-for-play internet access speed. Big companies willing to pay more for faster download speeds are likely to pass those costs along to their customers, while smaller start-ups could be relegated to obscurity.
The internet was working and was indeed an information superhighway that connected the globe in a free and open environment.
If Republicans have their way and successfully block the Open Internet Preservation Act, the internet will be restricted to those with enough money to buy what used to be free.
Republicans say they believe in smaller government, but their actions say otherwise. Ending Net Neutrality is about as Big Brother as you can get.
Author’s note: The opinions and commentary included in this report are based on the author’s original reporting and independent analysis of official documents and public information.