Internet neutrality is a term that has been in the news a lot over the last few years. Some of the questions many people ask are “What is it?” “Is it important?” “What does it NOT cover?” “How does it affect me?” “What would a world without internet neutrality look like?” and “What are the arguments against net neutrality?”
What many internet providers would like is to be able to show preference for certain web content – sites that are owned by them or who pay a fee for preferential treatment.
What is internet neutrality? Internet neutrality, also called “net neutrality,” “Network Neutrality” or “net equality” basically requires that internet providers treat all non-harmful content equally. They are not allowed to block or intentionally slow down connections to any legal internet content, even if that content belongs to a competitor. The Federal Communications Commission (also called FCC) has ruled that the internet is to be treated like the phone lines. Customers who use one phone company can call friends who happen to use a different phone company without paying extra money or having the connection interrupted on purpose. The ruling says the internet is to be treated the same way.
Is net neutrality important? Having a neutral internet means that customers have more choice about the content they want to access.They are not limited strictly to websites, videos, and communications opportunities that their internet provider profits from. Anyone who wants to create a website may do so, and internet users have as much access to it as they would to sites owned by internet providers.
What does internet neutrality NOT cover? It doesn’t mean that everything on the internet is free. A neutral internet means that users don’t have to pay a fee to get to a website. That does not mean that there won’t be a charge by the site owner once the user gets there. For example, a Comcast user wouldn’t have to pay a fee to Comcast to get to Netflix, though they do have to pay for the subscription once they get there. Net neutrality means users only have to pay the one fee at their destination rather than an additional toll to get there.
Imagine you had to pay for using all the roads every time you went to McDonald’s in addition to paying for your food once you arrived.
How does Internet Neutrality affect me? Neutral internet access means that anyone who pays for internet has the ability to access all legal content. We providers are still allowed (and encouraged!) to block harmful stuff like viruses from getting to your computer.
What would a world without internet equality look like? Each time you used the internet, you could be charged additional fees by your internet company in order to get to the sites you want. Comcast customers who want to watch a movie on Netflix, for example, might have to pay Comcast an extra fee to connect them, or Comcast might interrupt the signals so that users experience poor streaming just because Netflix competes with Comcast’s own cable service.
What are some arguments against the net neutrality ruling? Some argue that the government is interfering by making any ruling on how the internet should run. Others say that net neutrality isn’t the real problem, and that the government needs to do more to push for an open internet and cheaper broadband prices. Still others argue that covering internet under Title II (treating it like the phone lines) won’t actually have the effect we’re expecting. Companies could still create tiered pricing, requiring customers to pay more money for more content. Another argument is that charging everyone the same regardless of how much they use the internet isn’t fair, either. And some organizations point out that the internet has done just fine without any regulation until now, so no such rules are needed.
What do you think?
Read the above passage. Read it again. This issue is kind of complicated, and I want to help you understand it. In a Google Doc, please summarize the passage by anwering the questions. Use complete sentences and your own words. Plagiarism = a zero, friends. I will not accept this assignment on paper, either. This assignment is due at the end of class. What is not finished will be due the week we come back from Spring Break.
1) What is internet neutrality?
2) What are some other terms for internet neutrality?
3) Is net neutrality important? Why or why not?
4) Does internet neutrality affect you? Why or why not?
5) What might the internet look like without neutrality?
6) What are four arguments against the net neutrality rules?
7) What do you think? Are the rules for net neutrality helpful or not? Explain your answer in at least three sentences.