The Net Neutrality Battleground

by: The Knowledge Group

November 29, 2017


The Federal Communications Commission plans to repeal net neutrality. A neutrality-based approach means internet service providers lack the opportunity to increase profits by charging various websites for access to internet fast lanes.

The Current Situation

Today, the internet allows the data from various websites to travel at the same rate. Verizon, Comcast, and other major providers cannot prevent people from freely surfing the web. Nor can they decide which content or applications get through to audiences with ease, and which do not. They cannot disadvantage applications that compete with their own products.

This is the public-utility approach to internet use. The Federal Communications Commission formally adopted it in 2015, by reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

If Net Neutrality Were Dropped

Mozilla, the Firefox browser maker, says enabling some online actors to purchase preferential treatment would set back U.S. web use, undermining both free speech and choice. Fortune magazine observes that Google and Facebook also oppose the rollback.

Yet FCC Chair Ajit Pai views the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which would end the Title II internet, as a return to Clinton-era free-market principles.

Winners and Losers

Large service providers would benefit from the Order.

Customers would find the online landscape shifting as providers could legally select or reject perspectives, much as cable channels can today.

And small businesses could find themselves disadvantaged by the added financial hurdles as they build their brands.

What Will Most Likely Happen?

An FCC vote on Dec. 14 is expected to end net neutrality, preempting states’ own rules.

The law professor who coined the term “net neutrality” believes the courts will then counter the FCC’s move.

What happens will certainly impact professionals who seek and distribute information online. This is an issue to watch.