September 22, 2020

Regulating in the name of freedom: net neutrality approved by FCC

The perpetual power struggle between big and small business dates back to the foundations of capitalism and the establishment of free-market America; therefore, it is understandable why the latest battle, widely considered a victory for small business, has evoked polarizing reactions across the country.

The new regulatory power gained by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which will create regulation for Internet broadband providers as a public utility, has become the topic of many a discussion in recent weeks.

The FCC’s decision to classify broadband providers as a public utility has several repercussions, but most notably that all traffic on the Internet must be given equal treatment, regardless of the size of the company providing it.  For instance, Google will not be able to pay for a stronger Internet connection in people’s homes, and effectively monopolize the broadband market by driving smaller companies out of business.

Although the FCC was once hesitant to classify Internet providers as public utilities for fear of over-regulation by the government, they reached the conclusion that leveling the playing field would require a more exact classification.  The direct intervention has led to two general reactions; most Democrats and certain Republicans have cosigned the new net neutrality rules as being necessary to the sustainment of an open internet, while some Republicans and major broadband providers warning of government over-regulation and insisting there was no problem with the internet in the first place.

Lisa Portolese, a technology specialist at the high school, believes the new rules are necessary for an open internet; “A free and open Internet is essential, and a company or an individual’s access to it should not be limited or throttled due to lack of money and or power,”  said Portolese.

As for the opposition, she does not see potential infringements on freedom of speech as a viable threat and said, “I don’t believe it will infringe on freedom of speech, the regulations are not dealing with content on the internet just the way it’s accessed. I also think it would encourage competition between providers as to who can offer better access not based money but based on equal access,” said Portolese.

The new ruling includes less polarizing provisions such as further protections on consumer privacy and ensuring that Internet service is available to people with disabilities and in remote areas.  The general consensus seems to be in favor of these newest changes.

(Alex Doe ’16, News Editor)

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