US Congress appeals ruling on net neutrality

(Kyle Grillot/Reuters)

(Kyle Grillot/Reuters)

The United States Wednesday voted to invalidate the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ruling on net neutrality by June 11, creating equality across broadband internet services.

The settlement was passed by a majority vote, 52-47. According to theLos Angeles Times, all 47 Democratic senators voted for net neutrality. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Maine Senator Angus King, who are both part of the Independent party, sided with Democrats. Three Republican senators including Maine’s Susan Collins, Louisiana’s John Kennedy and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski also voted for net neutrality. With a Republican house majority, the win was uncommon for the Democrats.

The verdict comes after the FCC voted in December 2017 to eliminate net neutrality rules that banned internet service providers (ISPs) from having unmitigated power. As a result, the government would no longer regulate the internet.

Net neutrality is the obligation of ISPs and wireless providers to treat all data and traffic on the internet equally. Before net neutrality was instituted, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 under President Bill Clinton was drafted to “ preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet . . . unfettered by Federal or State regulation.” The introduction of this Act prohibited government regulation of ISPs.

In 2015, the FCC instated stricter net neutrality rules regulated the omnipotent authority of ISPs, preventing them from attaining total reign. Although many people praised the ruling, some found it to be too regulatory, according to Vox Media. According to the Los Angeles Times, net neutrality can “prohibit internet service providers from selling faster delivery of certain data, slowing speeds for specific content and blocking or otherwise discriminating against any legal material.” The 2017 ruling appealed this directive.

While Democrats and online companies including Google, Netflix and Facebook generally support net neutrality regulations, Republicans and telecommunication companies commonly find that net neutrality can threaten “innovation” on the Internet, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Republican Senator of South Dakota John Thune finds that the reversal of the 2017 ruling is arbitrary and demural, “Why aren’t we debating a bipartisan bill instead of a partisan resolution?” he asked. “Well, some on the other side of the aisle reached the cynical conclusion that exploiting concern about the internet outweighed the value of working with Republicans to pass net neutrality protections.”

According to the New York Times, Democrats are using net neutrality as one of their three main tactics to attract young voters to vote in November elections. The other two parts of the core of the strategy includes marijuana legalisation and gun control.

Democratic Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey stated that net neutrality will protect the current state of the internet, “We will take a stand to protect our online economy, or we will say goodbye to the internet as we know it”.

The issue of net neutrality isn’t black and white, displaying both positive and negative consequences. When there is net neutrality, anyone can create online content without restriction. For example, online entrepreneurs do not need the permission of nor need to pay fees to ISPs such as Liquid Telecommunications and Vox Telecom to create high-speed and high-functioning websites. According to Vox Media, net neutrality sparks cyber innovation. If net neutrality ceased to exist, ISPs may decelerate website speed in favor of websites that pay more to ISPs or that are created by ISPs themselves.

Some individuals believe that the retirement of net neutrality brings positive change. According to Vox Media, Detractors find that net neutrality can discourage people from investing in “network infrastructure”. Additionally, critics of net neutrality find that broadband regulation is simply inconceivable, considering the vastness of the internet and the boundless changes that occur on a day-to-day basis. Lastly, people find that net neutrality is unnecessary considering ISPs have a “natural incentive to not break the internet”, meaning that they wouldn’t slow down or curb services since those services are the ones promoting ISPs, according to Vox Media.

Arielle Schwartz

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