Net Neutrality is no more after today's vote by the FCC. Net Neutrality was the principle and standard that internet service providers must provide service to all web users equally. This made it so the companies that provide internet service and the government cannot limit access to internet services. The internet connection in the U.S. was regulated by Net Neutrality standards and companies could not limit access to websites that they may not like, such as a competitor or a website that doesn't support their desired message. It made it so average blogs had the possibility of having the same exposure and usage as any other major corporate site. Imagine, Amazon was once a small website that was created by a guy who wanted to share books.
Let's face it, the internet is owned by corporations and corporations are driven by making a profit and blocking competitors. Now that the standard is removed by the FCC, businesses who control internet access will be able to manipulate the websites that people can access. Some examples of companies that already limited access in the past are Comcast and Verizon. Comcast secretly throttled peer-to-peer downloads until they were court ordered to stop and Verizon limited access to Facebook FaceTime because it competed with their own service.
These examples are just the tip of an iceberg that could wash away fair and equal internet access as Net Neutrality standards are not enforced and removed by the FCC. Without these standards, the internet service providers (ISPs) will be able to pick and choose what sites and users get the best access to the net. Click here for a list of cases and violations that ISPs were making before Title II Net Neutrality standards were implemented in 2015.
The history of regulating the net starts in 1966 when the FTC and FCC began investigating and regulating AT&T as a monopoly that was providing both telecommunication services and information services to their customers. The telecommunication services is proactively regulated by the FCC while information service standards are enforced by the FTC. For a more in-depth history of the development of Net Neutrality click here.
The battle on how to regulate the net and who should be doing it is still going on. The FCC changed Title II protections on December 14th. Here is their projected plan. Although the meeting was open to the public the FCC building is not open access and any visitors must check in and be screened by the FCC on 12th Street at the main entrance. For more information check out the FCC site directly. Do not be fooled by the title of the proposal to "Restore Internet Freedom". Although treating internet service providers like utility companies that must provide equal services to all may seem like a burden to those companies, the regulation truly helps the average user and other companies that use the service or provide competing services. The companies that run these services are driven by profits, not rights and liberties for all equally.
What does this mean for your business... lots. Businesses must communicate with customers. There are a multitude of ways to communicate and as stipulated earlier ISPs have previously tried to block other providers services like FaceTime or Skype to dominate the market and control data sharing. This makes it hard for companies to compete and can rise prices for the average user and business. Say for example, your internet service is provided by Verizon but instead of making calls to clients, you only FaceTime. Verizon may not like this type of competition because now instead of paying for their phone services you are only using your data and have stopped using landline calling. This type of thing has already been called out and stopped but if Title II does not stand then companies are likely to try these sneaky tactics again if they can. Keep an eye on your bills and accounts over the next couple of months and report any over charges or usage problems.
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