Protecting Net Neutrality

Americans should demand protection for the freedom of information in 2018. Because net neutrality is essential for education, and communication. Since the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1989 countless opportunities grew expanding the wonders of its technology. Just as the Internet grew also did the corporate greed to monetize its use and thus Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable were created. The various companies began to grab for sole proprietary rights to charge Americans for which services they could use online. The Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) proposed net neutrality rules during their 2010 Open Internet Order, comprised of four core principles: transparency, no blocking, no unreasonable discrimination, and reasonable network management. These rules were later shut down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which stated that the FCC has limited regulatory options for broadband as an information service. During a five-month period in 2014, the FCC requested the publics opinion on the net neutrality issue and received nearly four million comments. February 2015, the FCC introduced new open internet rules, they were soon challenged yet again in court. Since the 2016 elections the FCC has switched into the hands of Republicans who wish to dismantle the regulations made by the Obama administration and create a “free-market” approach.

One of the flaws in the concept lies at the heart of the net neutrality debate, that is an institutional design problem: finding and implementing a set of governance mechanisms that protect the benefits of the Internet as its technological, economic, and political conditions continue to evolve. Attaining an effective and sustainable governance approach requires sufficient agreement among stakeholders about the objectives to be realized and about the working of the system to be governed. The most prevalent way in which the debate is separated is by political interests, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) having the power to influence regulations in their favor. The other is economic gain, this can be either from the ISPs charging Content Providers (CPs) such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu premiums for higher speeds or priority over other CPs, another party that benefits from lesser regulations are the stockholders and investors behind ISPs.

Verizon one of the nation’s largest ISP has been repeatedly caught throttling CPs network speed impeding the end-user from enjoying their entertainment; one of the largest instances of this being Netflix having their bandwidth reduced despite paying Verizon for higher bandwidth so end-users (customer) can enjoy their content loading faster and in full HD. A no blocking rule would prevent network operators from prohibiting use or access to certain devices, applications, and services. It would be subject to properly defined exemptions for security reasons and other legitimate purposes. Furthermore, a no blocking rule would allow other types of network management, including usage-based pricing. A zero-price rule would prohibit ISPs from charging CPs for the termination of traffic to users.

Another key reason to maintain a sustainable governance over the Net, is with the rise of new technological developments also come ways that can endanger our livelihoods and safety. Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) an ability that was developed to examine the content of each individual datagram sent. This capability not only allows the filtering of malicious traffic but also the identification of the sender, content, and recipient of the packet, leaving open the potential to discriminate against competitors and political opponents. Without proper regulation countless Americans could be at risk of having their data stolen, resulting in credit card theft, identity fraud, and money stolen from their online bank account.

Addressing the challenges raised in the net neutrality debate requires first a clarification of the overarching values that should govern the Internet. Many of these values took shape during the formative years of the Internet. They emerged from repeated interactions and choices made by the computer scientists, software designers, engineers, and users involved in the development of the Internet. It is important to bring these dimensions into open deliberation so that they do not influence the discussion as unexamined tacit premises. Contributors to the net neutrality debate draw from several, sometimes incommensurable, normative traditions. Discussions among legal experts, communication scholars, and political scientists emphasize human rights, political freedoms, and creative freedoms as important rationales for policies in support of an open Internet. Economists and engineers tend to start from efficiency considerations, with some overlap with respect to innovation arguments. Philosophy and jurisprudence provide frameworks to assess implications of institutional and governance arrangements for justice, equity, and fairness.

Visions of the economic, social, and political benefits of communication technologies have inspired engineers, scholars, and activists since the early days of electronic communications. In a broader historical perspective, the Internet is the latest and most powerful “technology of freedom” with potentially far-reaching effects on human and political rights. Freedom of speech online requires the ability for users to access the Internet and to communicate their thoughts and viewpoints online.