What happens to net neutrality in the USA as April 23 approaches?
With April 23 soon approaching, internet users in the USA will be in for a rude awakening by Monday midnight. Because that is when net neutrality expires. This will basically take away the right of internet users who will not have an equal access to certain parts of the internet such as online content in terms of the website, videos or social media, It was decided in 2016, under the Obama administration, that internet should be protected. It was agreed upon that “No internet or tech company should be allowed to block, throttle, or prioritize content, viewpoints, or ideas online. Your Internet provider or search engine should not be able to censor your access to information or erect roadblocks to fair competition just to drive viral clicks or give themselves an unfair advantage in the market.”
But under Trump’s administration, by December 2017, all hell broke loose when FCC repealed net neutrality. This puts ISP (internet service providers) in a position where they can legally create ‘fast lanes’ or ‘slow lanes’ for the websites of their choice or even block websites they do not agree with. Large corporations will start controlling how often people surf the internet, visit websites, watch videos, or send messages. This puts users and consumers in a weird state of paying to use certain websites. Many believe that the internet should always be free for an open and competitive market.
Despite the repeal, FCC claims it will not have a negative effect on start-up companies and consumers. But 83% of consumers and startup companies differ by claiming it will eventually hurt them, according to a recent survey. Also, they believe this will become an unfair market where ones who afford to pay for internet will get easy access whereas people who cannot afford to pay to access certain websites or activities online will suffer.
Today, no one can imagine life and work without the Internet and because of this, the economy thrives. Technology is nothing without the internet in most cases and this decides the future of a nation. In 2017, around $34 billion was invested as venture capital funds, alone in Internet and software companies in the United States.
So what are tech companies and states doing about this in America?
Major tech companies such as Mozilla and Vimeo sued the FCC for repealing net neutrality. Also, companies such as Netflix, Twitter, and Reddit supported net neutrality with messages posted on their official websites. States such as Washington and Oregon were the first to sue FCC. Governors of New York, Hawaii, New Jersey, Montana, and Vermont, have signed executive orders related to net-neutrality. California is still dealing with the FCC over this issue with a second bill and effort called SB 822.
Many public personalities are also speaking out against net neutrality such as father and creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, who believes that keeping the internet free and open is a “human right”.
We will have to see what changes April 23 brings along in the USA in terms of the internet.
Will other nations follow suit in terms of internet service?
What is your opinion?