Internet Battles

Braden Powell, Online Editor

Let’s pretend Chick Fil A is giving away free milkshakes. In order to drink the milkshake you must buy a straw. You buy the straw, because you’re getting a free milkshake. One day while enjoying your free milkshake, the amount of delicious milkshake coming through the straw starts to decline. “What in the world?” you ask yourself. Your milkshake has become hard to drink. You don’t have all day to attempt to drink a milkshake! You look down, and the man who sold you the straw is pinching the straw! “Stop it!” you tell the man. The man replies saying “Not until Chick Fil A pays me more money!” You’re outraged, because you bought the straw from him. He doesn’t care though, because he wants more money.

That is the simplest explanation of net neutrality I can find. Net Neutrality is the idea that all information should be treated equally. The “internet” is free, just like the milkshake, but you have to “buy a straw” which means, pay an internet service provider (ISP) like Comcast in order to access the internet. With the current regulations, ISPs could approach companies like Netflix and say “pay us more money, or we are going to ‘pinch the straw’” and slow down the internet speed “to all the people using your website” This is neither a good thing for the consumer nor the companies who have business models built upon the foundation of the internet. Companies like Netflix could probably afford to pay the ISPs for the faster speeds, but what about the smaller, newer companies that are just starting out and want to compete with Netflix? No one, especially high school students, enjoys buffering. If Netflix loads faster and does not buffer, and the others do, who is going to get all the customers? Netflix.

Information shouldn’t get blocked, prioritized, or throttled. This is exactly what the Federal Communications Commision, who is responsible for regulating interstate and international communications, is attempting to accomplish. To create a internet where all information is treated equally.

The FCC has voted to reclassify internet as a Title II telecommunications service under the 1934 Communications Act. Many believe the government should stay out of the market. I too believe the government should keep their involvement to a minimum. In this case, I believe it was necessary for the government to step in and make new regulations. The FCC is applying at least nine sections of the Title II regulation, leaving over 700 rules unapplied. This reclassification places ISPs under the same regulations that now govern telephone networks. The new rules states that ISPs cannot slow down specific applications or services, or what is known as “throttling.” They also can’t block content or prioritize content. These regulations will protect the internet and its users.