By Brandon Lu
Recently, the FCC voted to approve new rules regarding Net-neutrality. The new rules will regulate ISPs, such as Comcast, more than the previous rules they announced last year. Previously, ISPs were able to charge companies more for “preferential service,” which can be abused. That is not going to happen anymore. This vote happened after 4 million people wrote to the FCC asking for greater neutrality of the internet . The 3-2 decision enforces more rules than ever before for ISPs.
Net-neutrality has been an extremely controversial topic, with strong opinions on both sides. It has also been a hot topic in politics, with many Democrats in favor of net-neutrality and many Republicans against it. The vote also broke down on party lines: the three commissioners who are Democrats voted for, while the two Republican commissioners voted against. . Many high profile businesses such as Amazon and eBay lobbied in support of net-neutrality, while ISPs such as Comcast want paid-prioritization to exist . The FCC has voted to implement stronger rules, however, Congress can still overturn the ruling . Net-neutrality has been an ongoing battle which still rages on.
Net-neutrality has many benefits but also many detriments. Supporters of net-neutrality say it keeps the internet free from interference by ISPs. That means all data is treated equally through the internet, and nobody can pay to have their data prioritized by ISPs. It also allows for greater innovation because companies cannot pay to have their data treated better than their competitors. Additionally, ISPs cannot stop data they do not like that is going through their networks. For example, Comcast, who owns NBC News, can give priority to its website while slowing down competitors. With Net-neutrality, this will not happen. On the other hand, opponents of Net-neutrality say the websites that clog up the cables will have to pay more for their data to be prioritized. When they pay more, ISPs can improve their networks so everyone benefits. Also, ISPs can shut out illegal data, such as from BitTorrent users, who use the internet to illegally download music and video games. ISPs do not want to strike down Net-neutrality to shut out competitors’ data; they do it so that they can make money from websites that pay for prioritization of their data . The debate about Net-neutrality rages on and does not seem to be winding down anytime soon.
Some people accuse ISPs of backing Net-neutrality for their own purposes. Last year, they spent a total of $44.2 million on lobbying the government on mainly Net-neutrality . On the other side, other people are accusing the White House and the Obama Administration for interfering with the FCC. Republicans in Congress are launching an investigation on the White House’s interference on the FCC . They are also drafting a bill that would replace the current FCC rules with weaker rules . Other companies are also raising money to support Net-neutrality. For example, AOL and Google lobbied in support of Net-neutrality. But, the amount anti Net-neutrality groups have raised is 3 times greater than the amount pro net-neutrality groups have raised .
All-in-all, Net-neutrality has been an ongoing debate that is divided on party lines. The final decision may change the internet as we know it. Current Net-neutrality rules do not change anything in the status quo, but if weaker rules are enforced, the internet may greatly change. One thing is for certain: Comcast isn’t very happy right now.