Net Neutrality Taking The Campus By Storm

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Society Staff Writer | Jessica Sees | js392211@ohio.edu

Image via CFC Oklahoma
Image via CFC Oklahoma

What is net neutrality, anyways? Why is everyone making such a fuss over it? Net neutrality is the basis of the Internet as we know it, and it’s being threatened. It has been causing quite the stir amongst first-amendment defenders for some time now.

As a basic definition, net neutrality is the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) are supposed to allow equal access and streaming quality/availability to all content available on the Internet. It’s what keeps the Internet a free, open space.

Sounds great, right? Right. With net neutrality, you don’t realize how smoothly the web operates until there is a kink in the system. The kink here is that on May 13 of last year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed the idea of “fast lanes” in the Internet, but at a cost. What this would do would allow ISPs, such as Comcast and Verizon, to charge more money for access to better streaming speeds.

Up until this point, there had only been talks and plans from ISPs to charge higher rates for faster speeds, but with this new plan by the FCC, it was becoming a reality. This is dangerous for the Internet because it gives rich companies, who can afford to comply, domination of the net while leaving small startups who might not be fiscally able to comply in the dust.

President Obama also caused panic in November of 2013 when he hired Tom Wheeler, former lobbyist for the cable industry, to become the chairman of the FCC, which is tasked with combatting lobbyists from the cable industry. Okay, so what?

There have been so many new developments and plans issued on the topic of net neutrality, but lucky for us, this timeline shows all of the events that have lead up to the current news and plans by the FCC, who have since backpedaled on their original plan for an internet with lanes.

Their new, net neutrality-friendly plan has come about after receiving 3.7 million comments on Sept. 15, 2014 advocating for net neutrality and an open Internet (which subsequently crashed their server for a second time).

Obama then released a video statement on Nov. 10, 2014 advocating for net neutrality under Title II of the Communications Act and urged the FCC to do everything in their power to keep the Internet a free and equal environment. Tom Wheeler later released an op-ed in support of an open Internet as well.

As of Feb. 26, 2015, the FCC has voted to protect net neutrality in a three-to-two vote, which is a huge victory for net neutrality. Let’s all take a moment of silence for the continued uninterrupted streaming of Netflix.

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