Net Neutrality, the concept where Internet Service Providers (ISPs) regard all data on the web as equivalent, instead of restricting the speed limit of internet or blocking certain content altogether.
This idea has been debated and challenged in many counties, mainly in U.S., threatening to crush concept of freely having access to internet.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015 stipulated Internet service providers to treat all the content equally by emphasising the fact that ISPs do not have any right to make changes or signify any content or information that people want to obtain.
After countless debates and discussions all around the world, FCC, with 3-2 vote, made amendments in Title II, a document of rules and regulations prepared by FCC for ISPs. The new set rules now doesn’t stop ISPs from doing anything they want. The only rule that is brought into notice is that from now onwards ISPs have to openly declare if they are not granting access to information on the internet. However, there are pros as well as cons of net neutrality. Lets take look at these.
“When I invented the web, I didn’t have to ask Vint Cerf [the ‘father of the internet’] for permission to use the internet,” says father of world wide web, Berners-Lee, who had earlier stated that the internet should remain a “permission-less space for creativity, innovation and free expression”.
Pros of Net Neutrality
- Net neutrality keeps things neutral by keeping a hold on ISPs and their activities. Under it, people can freely access the required information without the interference of ISPs like AT&T and Comcast. The ISPs can no longer block or control the information that people want to see or know.
- Innovation in the processed information can be protected with the help of net neutrality to a great extent. With the help of net neutrality all types of companies and businesses whether big or small will have access to same information without any alterations or changes that will help them earn sufficiently and release information in a way that will benefit all.
- With net neutrality it is possible to share views or opinions freely via blogs and other websites. The content is not censored as long as it is not going against the set boundaries of the law and if it does then appropriate legal action can be taken to make things work right.
- People can consciously make an attempt to have access to the illegal content on the internet if they like, this is because net neutrality wants its users to be aware of what is going on around them so it provides them with a platform from which they can make the most of it. At the same time, illegal activities (file sharing, software downloading) can still be prevented since each ISP would possess a common carrier.
Cons of Net Neutrality
- Initially, the internet was not easily accessible to common public. Those who had access would have to wait for websites to load for long durations like upto 10-20 minutes. This is no more the case as everything, in the present times, is just a click-of-a-button away. These impeccable services are freely available to public which is making it less significant.
- With the option of net neutrality related businesses won’t be able to make money and people would use ample amounts of bandwidth everyday. If we remove the option of net neutrality then the collected income can be used to improve the quality of internet service that can help people in various fields.
- Usually, the internet service providers give preference to the network services which are owned by them and disregard the other competitive network services. By doing this people who have taken a particular ISP are restricted to use the other network services that are not undertaken by that particular ISP. This delimitation creates a chaos within people.
- Objectionable content like personal or religious beliefs, legal pornography, graphic videos, and items that are not suitable for children is accessible to people via net neutrality. However, people have the option of blocking this content, but the thing to ponder upon is what steps net neutrality can take before it reaches the users all around the world.
- If the primary aim of the internet becomes money making then people with low pay scale will not be able to access internet. Only the elite society will benefit from it that will greatly create demographic and socio-ecomomic disparities.
Net Neutrality for Businesses
Unhindered internet is vital for entrepreneurs, new businesses and business visionaries, who depend on the open web through which they can widely publicise and outstretch their business to the potential customers. The unlimited access to internet can greatly bring variation into business world, increase competition and provide various job opportunities. It is because of net neutrality that small scale businesses are conveniently able to reach their customers at a constant pace without which the ISPs would have ruined the public freedom to use internet optimally by different people for different purposes. Google and Facebook are the best examples of net neutrality without which it wouldn’t have been possible for them to succeed.
Despite all the hype, it is unclear how much will eventually change for internet users. Major telecom companies like AT&T and Comcast have promised consumers that their experiences online would not change.