Despite public outcry from the American public and tech companies, the FCC is reportedly moving forward with plans to slash net neutrality laws next month. The regulatory agency says a rollback of net neutrality laws would “stop micromanaging the Internet,” but advocates argue that this shift would give the Internet Services providers too much power. So, what can we expect from these looming changes? Well, a lot, but also nothing.
This isn’t the first time we’ve written about the United States’ net neutrality laws, and it certainly won’t be the last. News out of Washington this week reports that Ajit Pai, head of the Federal Communications Commission, will be holding a vote to repeal current Obama-era laws on December 15th.
For a refresher, net neutrality is a set of rules that bar Internet Service Providers from prioritizing internet traffic within their network for any sort of financial gain. That also means they can’t slow down one website over another, or charge internet companies for quicker access. By rolling these enforcements back and handing the jurisdiction over to the Federal Trade Commission as planned, telecom companies would simply pledge to follow net neutrality, and be slapped with some sort of fine for not abiding.
The vote will be decided by a five-member Republican majority, but it will also most likely face backlash in the form of a lawsuit sometime after. Not to mention the fact that a sweeping public outcry campaign was logged in the form of millions of formal complaints on the FCC website.
A rollback of net neutrality would hurt consumers and have a huge impact on businesses. Not only would ISP’s be able to slow down whatever content they want — and often skew is speed and accessibility t to entities they have a stake in — but the big tech companies who are increasingly dabbling in telecom wouldn’t have enforced net neutrality laws guiding them forward. Our CEO, Olav van Doorn, explored this idea on his LinkedIn blog.
“Right now we know that Microsoft, Equinix, Facebook, Google and Amazon (amongst others) are working on technology that would allow them to bypass not only the ISP’s but the world’s leading hardware and software companies,” explained van Doorn. “They’re creating their own networks. And to put it simply, this could give them total control over how you view and access content.”
But, just because a vote is set, that doesn’t mean the internet is going to change overnight. We see legal battles holding this inevitable decision back, with the courts or even Congress deciding on it down the line. For now, we have to wait and see and stay informed along the way. A neutral internet is good for consumers and essential for healthy market competition and business — whether it stays that way or not, we have to see.