The effects of repealing net neutrality
Ajit Pai, FCC chairman appointed by Donald Trump and supporter of repealing net neutrality has played a substantial role in leading the agency to repeal net neutrality in 2017. The ABC article, Net Neutrality Vote’s Major Players outlines some of the other major players are the five members of the commission who repealed the bill with their 3-2 vote in favor of abandoning net neutrality established in 2015 and Tom Wheeler, the former chairman of the FCC during the Obama Administration who strongly opposed the repeal as he was lead the way in establishing net-neutrality. Companies such as Comcast and Netflix were also invested in this case, as the repeal of net neutrality means ISPs such as Comcast, who have a large stake in media content themselves that competes with Netflix to throttle Netflix’s or other content providers bandwidth to force competitors to pay for their access. Netflix has already been paying Comcast in 2014, yet net neutrality laws established in 2015 put an end to this. Net neutrality laws were a bastion to the freedom that internet pioneers believed in, and a hindrance to ISPs who felt that their decision-making and innovation was parried by tight regulation.
While no specific laws or regulations have been broken, the repeal of net neutrality presents a major change to legislation that has effects that ripple through society. As government and big-internet businesses erode the original internet of the pioneers, some protections customers of ISPs have been lessened, while ISPs believe that it will unblock innovation. As there is little competition paired with a high US internet penetration within the sphere of ISPs deregulation has little chance of exposing providers to competition that spurs innovation. Rather lack-of-regulation means that internet service providers no longer have to follow a certain standard. The article, Killing Net Neutrality Rules Did Far More Harm Than You Probably Realize, Karl Bode reveals the extent of the 2019 Decision by the FCC to not enforce Net Neutrality, which means that ISPs no longer have to guarantee access or the same speed your website, as the speed they guarantee for those paying for a ‘faster lane’ for example. The repeal of net neutrality also means that ISPs are no longer required to disclose ‘throttling restrictions’ or ‘hidden fees’.
Negative: An example from the article mentioned previously reveals how extra fees can have resulted since the repeal, “Customers of Frontier Communications have been complaining that the company continues to charge them a $10 router rental fee every month, even when they own their own router.” In response, Frontier considered the fee applicable which later the FCC no longer has control to regulate and responded with “We reviewed the provider’s response, and based on the information submitted, we believe your provider has responded to your concerns.” Traffic is no longer treated fairly and is now under the description of individual internet service providers who now have the ability to collect fees to different speed lanes. Positive: According to the article, The pros and cons of net neutrality, The repeal of net neutrality allows network service providers to hide content that is explicit to those under age, such as porn. ISPs could force users to verify their identity before proceeding to allow users to access such content. Another argument against net-neutrality means that ‘content-hungry’ companies such as Netflix will subsidize the internet access to other less bandwidth-intensive websites like Wikipedia or Facebook, it’s unclear, however, whether the customers of Netflix will bear the cost of increased access to networks.
According to A Framework for Ethical Decision Making, It seems that the decision made by those in favor of dismantling net neutrality was applying the Utilitarian Theory. While the opponents of the act were aware of the negative effects of removing this law – made clear by the proponents during protests, Tom Wheeler’s arguments, yet they believed voting in favor would yield more utility within their Republican paradigm and values of deregulation as the turnout of the vote was primarily a partisan one. Perceived utility from partisanship perhaps played the biggest role: complex decisions with reverberating effects were devolved to the values of the presiding party. Chairman Ajit Pai also made his strong opposition known before the vote. The effects of the net neutrality repeal are still in question since the decision as little visible change beyond unfair fees have changed. It’s difficult to say that the repeal was justified within the framework given the limited arguments provided by the present a potential counter-argument to net neutrality – however, the strong consolidation and penetration of the ISP market and already high rate of means more innovation won’t come as promised leaving me to say that this decision is an unjustified one.