The Fight for Net Neutrality: Is The Internet Equal for All?

Will people be locked out of the internet?

Will people be locked out of the internet?

In early 2014, the FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, proposed a plan that would allow several service  providers, such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast to control the internet; this would create a “faster” internet, as well as restrictions on certain sites. 

These protesters fight for “Net Neutrality,”  to have a free, uncontrolled space where users can voice their ideas and opinions.

When President Obama ran for president, he pledged to fight for net neutrality, “I am a strong supporter of net neutrality … What you’ve been seeing is some lobbying that says that the servers and the various portals through which you’re getting information over the Internet should be able to be gatekeepers and to charge different rates to different websites … And that I think destroys one of the best things about the Internet—which is that there is this incredible equality there.”  In 2010, President Obama had the FCC pass the ‘Open Internet Order’ with the intentions of preventing service providers from interfering with the internet. In 2014, the Federal Appeals Court ruled that the Open Internet Order was crafted using “questionable legal framework…[and]…lacked the authority to implement said rules.” This left a window for the FCC chairman to propose a new system for the internet. Thus, the fight for net neutrality began in earnest.

With this proposal, a huge backlash resulted from internet users everywhere.”

A petition was posted January 15th, 2014 on the White House webpage, urging President Obama to direct the FCC in the right direction, and to keep the web open to the public. The petition received 105,572 signatures, and by February 18th the White House responded to the petition expressing the continued support of an open internet.  

In May of 2014, the FCC suggested a rule-making on internet structure and regulations which allowed the public to submit their comments and concerns between the months of May and September. President Obama and his administration continued to show support of net neutrality as a voice of the thousands who were sending him e-mails, letters, and petitions.

In August, he put out a new statement; “you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to different users. You want to leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed.””

— President Obama

In September, when the comment period ended, the FCC had heard from close to 4 million Americans on their complaints on the suggested regulatory policies, which is more than the FCC has ever received on a policy in the past. With this backlash President Obama called on the FCC to put into place the strictest laws possible to keep net neutrality, which would keep ISP’s (internet service providers) from making the internet a controlled space.

In February of this year, the FCC voted in favor of a strong set of net neutrality rules that would keep the internet free and open. Many saw this as an end to ISP’s mission to control the internet, however since the FCC ruling there have been numerous lawsuits against the FCC and now, in mid-April, the FCC’s net neutrality rules are under attack again.

Net neutrality gives internet users the right to communicate, share, and express their thoughts freely. With ISPs controlling the free space that people use everyday, they won’t be able to post, or surf the internet freely. The battle for net neutrality isn’t over, and ISPs are pushing to dominate the web. This is not an issue that will pass over the course of the next few weeks. It’s been a long tireless battle between the FCC, ISPs, but more importantly, internet users everywhere.

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