What is Net Neutrality, and Why is Everyone Upset?

The week of Thanksgiving, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (“Pai”), who was formerly an attorney for Verizon, announced plans to roll back regulations for Net Neutrality (“N.N.”). Many people voiced their outrage and concern, California Senator Kamala Harris being one of them. Many people were confused about what Net Neutrality is, and why it’s important.

N.N. is the Internet’s guiding principle which preserves our right to communicate freely online.[1] It allows the Internet to protect free speech; by doing this, Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) would provide us with open networks that do not block or discriminate against any applications or content that potentially overrides those networks.

You might be wondering what an Internet without N.N. would look like. Without this regulation, cable and phone companies would be able to divide the internet into “slow” and “fast” lanes. A good analogy for this could be the express lanes on a freeway that drivers can pay a premium to take versus the regular lanes on a freeway that do not cost anything. Without N.N., ISPs would be able to slow down a competitor’s content or block political content that they don’t approve of. That sounds like a bad time.

If we lost N.N., the Internet would become a closed-down network where cable and phone companies make all the decisions and decide which websites, content, and applications have a successful life. This certainly is not beneficial for consumers. Major corporations such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast would be able to decide who has a voice, and who is silenced.

You might be wondering how this will potentially effect businesses. N.N. is crucial for small business owners, startups, and entrepreneurs who rely on the Internet to launch their businesses, create markets, and advertise their products, and ultimately reach consumers. N.N. has allowed small businesses to thrive online. Many wonderful companies could potentially be blocked from having a really good start if N.N. is repealed.

Mr. Pai is not paying attention to the public outrage surrounding this, and a vote is set to take place on December 14th, which is quickly approaching.  If you want to voice your concern, you may sign these petitions:

Do Not Repeal Net Neutrality

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/do-not-repeal-net-neutrality

[1] “Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now.” Save the Internet, Freepress , 2017, http://www.savetheinternet.com/net-neutrality-what-you-need-know-now.

By: Marissa Graniero, Paralegal Intern

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