On Nov. 10, President Barack Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to consider reclassifying the Internet as a utility, in order to protect “net neutrality,” the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. It will also allow the FCC to create stricter regulations concerning the web.
A show of support by the president for net neutrality is a step in the direction of allowing the Internet to remain as it is now: unfiltered and egalitarian.
Internet providers like Comcast have, contrary to the president, shown their support for Internet reform that would allow for companies to regulate how traffic is handled on their network.
The classification of the Web as a utility (under Title II) would turn cable companies, essentially, into utility companies.
This would prohibit these corporations from using their power as an Internet provider to favor certain types of traffic (namely, traffic from their services or paying companies) over other competitors’ web traffic.
The FCC is an independent agency, and therefore not subject to the president’s wishes. But FCC chairman Tom Wheeler—the former telecom lobbyist appointed by president Obama–has said it would consider the president’s stance on the subject, along with the 4 million people that commented on the FCC’s page concerning net neutrality.
But what exactly is net neutrality, and why should anyone care?
In short, the battle is about leaving the Internet the way it is, by treating all data in the same way rather than prioritizing certain types of data from certain places. And it’s a battle the consumer is on the verge of losing.
Internet providers won’t be going after the consumer with its tiered services (at first). It’ll target other companies, companies like Netflix, which has already been throttled by Comcast thanks to the amount of data it sends through the cable company’s network.
In the end, the two companies reached an agreement, and Netflix is paying Comcast for access to its network, and at the same time setting a dangerous precedent for how companies relying on the web interact with the Internet service providers.
Find out more about net neutrality and how it affects consumers and access on the next page …