Aptly called the World Wide Web, WWW is the abbreviation for the ocean of information that is available to online users that is commonly referred to as the internet. Tagged as a network of websites which allow internet users to access any source, content or applications, the internet comes as a promising medium to connect to various sites, without any restrictions.
When you are online, you are in total control of your browsing experience. You have the liberty to check out any site of your choice without any boundaries set to the way in which you access content or share online information among your online contacts. This luxury or freedom to browse across the internet is the basic definition of Net Neutrality.
Let us now in clear terms define what Net Neutrality is all about.
Definition of Net Neutrality
To put in simple terms, Net Neutrality is the basic principle behind the functioning of the internet. It is a provision for the users to access all the content and applications that are available online, regardless of the source. It is also a condition that does not favor or block particular websites or information of certain products.
Net Neutrality cracks the whip against ISPs (Internet Service Providers) like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from tampering with your browsing experience. They, as the providers of internet service cannot either speed up, slow down or block any content that is posted on the net. These companies cannot dictate the terms to any user, specifying the websites or applications that they wish to connect and use.
To understand this concept better, let us take the analogy of telecom service providers.
Do the telecom service providers have any control over whom you call and what content you discuss with your contacts? No! They don’t. You are exercising your freedom of speech and choice that will allow you to contact anyone without any interference caused by your telecom service provider. Link this scenario with Net Neutrality and you arrive at its definition which reads that ISPs should not have any say with regard to the content you wish to view, post or share online.
The Event of 2015 That Sparked a Furor
It was in 2015 that millions of activists raised slogans in favor of Net Neutrality, pressing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement the existing rules of Net Neutrality. This outcry was aimed at keeping the internet open and free to every user and browser, across the globe. The hue and cry was to allow internet users to access and share information of their choice without any interference from the ISPs in any manner.
The Recent Development With Regard to Net Neutrality
It took a couple of years after the 2015 outcry for a new legislation to be implemented by the FCC’s Republican approved Chairman Ajit Pai. And the new statute was to do away with the protection offered by Net Neutrality.
As recent as December 14th 2017, Mr. Pai who is the former lawyer of Verizon and the Chairman of the US FCC, appointed by Donald Trump, banished the common argument raised by millions of citizens, public-interest groups, companies and lawmakers in favor of Net Neutrality. And the outcome came as a rude shock for Net Neutrality supporters with Mr. Pai calling all the shots. This did not go well with the Congress which demanded the “resolution of disapproval” to reverse the power of FCC in ripping off the rules governing Net Neutrality. The Congress opined that the internet without Net Neutrality is not the internet in the real and practical sense.
Damage Control Mechanism
As a strong retort to the unanimous vote against Net Neutrality declared by the FCC despite the loud outcry coming from millions of net users across the globe, a step-wise damage control mechanism was initiated.
• Step 1 – Sign the Online Petition
This procedure came up with a petition that should be scrutinized by people across the world, with the support of the members of Congress.
That is the first step to protecting the internet from becoming a puppet in the hands of ISPs which will gain the power to block online content that does not fall in line with their opinions and notions. Paving the way for discrimination across the globe, an act which is much against the digital civil laws of the Congress, this signed competition can be used to pass a “resolution of disapproval”.
Constituents of the Petition
Along with personal information like your name, email ID, country and ZIP code, the petition consists of a text box which calls for your opinion about the importance of Net Neutrality to you. This information once collated will become a documented proof to not only inform lawmakers but also urge them to act with respect to incorporating the safety of the internet through Net Neutrality rules.
There is another tab in the petition which is self-explanatory. And that is a call for action. Once you click this button all your details will be saved in the database allowing you to become one among the millions of subscribers standing up for Net Neutrality. You will then be at the receiving end of updates from Free Press and the Action Fund of Free Press. If at all you wish to opt out of this global movement, you can do so by unsubscribing at any point in time.
• Step 2 – Make a Call
You have another alternative to make yourself heard. And that is pick up your phone and make a call. Once you key in your phone number supported by the ZIP code of your locality and submit the online petition, you can directly get in touch with lawmakers who will hear you out. You can then present your arguments in favor of Net Neutrality and become a partner to save the internet from the malicious intentions of the FCC; over a phone call.
• Step 3 – Allow Good to Make Noise
You, as a strong supporter of Net Neutrality, have another option to submit your vote. And that is to spread the word about Net Neutrality across the most prominent social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. You can take to these two sites and post your reservations on the scrapping of Net Neutrality laws for the entire online community to take notice.
The Internet Becomes a Puppet in the Hands of ISPs in the Absence of Net Neutrality
You as a casual or regular internet user might ask: What will happen to the internet now after the Net Neutrality rules are scrapped?
Here is the scenario that will unfold, marring the browsing experiences of almost all the internet users across the globe.
Without the Net Neutrality rules in place, ISP majors like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T will have the last laugh, deciding which websites, applications and online content will gain prominence. These companies will offer preferential treatment to the online groups which concur with their opinions. They will have the reins of the internet in their hands, damaging the basic fabric of the internet. These enterprises can go to the extent of slowing down the websites of their competitors and playing foul. They can even block online political publications that are not in line with their opinions. In addition to slowing down their internet services, these companies can call the shots to bill huge amounts from certain content companies as fees for rendering special treatment.
Social Implications of Suppressing Net Neutrality
With the most recent development against Net Neutrality that has taken place on Dec 14th 2017, the supporters in favor of net safety and Net Neutrality have come up with arguments in favor of Net Neutrality. They strongly feel that Net Neutrality is primal to the spread of innovation, education, economic opportunities along with a provision to engage in social movements and demonstrate global opposition strategies. They opine that there would no provision for social justice, since the power to resist and oppose a particular law is snapped off from their hands and placed in the hands of ISPs.
Without Net Neutrality, the hands of people of different colors, those belonging to religious minority groups, the LGBTQ community and various other indigenous groups will be tied, preventing them to vent out their emotions and opinions on the internet. Leaving no room for freedom of expression and speech through the internet, people across the globe will have no option to raise their voices against systemic discrimination.
The internet is a global phenomenon that mirrors the opinions of people from every nook and corner of the world. Without Net Neutrality, how can one think of associating with activists who are fighting for a common cause and spread their word to the world at large? What about the lives of the minorities in the United States? Shouldn’t they have a medium to express their oppression?
Scrapping the laws concerning Net Neutrality will eventually lead to discriminating the minority community with an inhuman sentiment. They will not be heard, their opinions will not be posted online since ISPs can block all their dissent speeches and voices that will go viral.
All in all, without Net Neutrality, the lives of minorities will be in the hands of few ISPs who will dictate terms, blocking their messages or their websites which are brimming with heart-aching situations of oppression and discrimination.
Let us now focus on the economic consequences of Net Neutrality.
Economic Ripples Caused By the Scrapping of Net Neutrality Laws
Gone are the days when people used to take the strain of knocking on the doors of showrooms to pick up their essential and luxurious merchandise. Now is the age of online marketing that has revolutionized the concept of trading in goods and services from the comfort of the user’s home.
The internet is tagged as an omnipresent and omnipotent instrument that can fuel the growth of small businesses, startups and advertising agencies. Everyone is now looking to make their online presence felt through digital marketing strategies. With all these developments revolving around the World Wide Web, it is imperative for all these business entities to reap the benefits of sustenance, growth, innovation and completion.
Without the free and fair internet, entrepreneurs and those with an indigenous sense of business and entrepreneurship will be prevented to work in the direction of realizing their dreams. Leaving no scope for creativity and business innovation, without Net Neutrality, there will come a time when the world will be craving for the next-gen companies to take off.
If you have to think of a business scenario without Net Neutrality, what will happen to all those business propositions that are run by the minorities? Won’t they become vulnerable when they are not allowed to compete with others who are privileged in the online space? Doesn’t this cause a deepening of the economic disparity that is already bothering the world? Without a doubt, the absence of Net Neutrality will pave the way for a world that is marked by deep-rooted economic imbalances that should be checked and eliminated.
The Solution to This Global Crisis
The good news here is: Congress has the power to go against the FCC’s vote. Hence it is up to us and the entire world, in general, to raise our voices to make ourselves heard.
We can, through our dedicated efforts compel lawmakers to come up with a “resolution of disapproval” to reverse the decision of FCC to break down the rules of Net Neutrality.
A Latest Breather to the Internet Community
Here comes some great news!
All the efforts and global outbursts in favor of Net Neutrality have finally bore fruit.
As on 20th Dec, 2017, the FCC rolled back the Net Neutrality regulations that it proposed and adopted since 2015.
So what’s in store for internet consumers and online businesses, now?
Calling the internet as a “utility”, this latest deregulation will impact the way in which online content will be delivered to users, the live streaming that you wish to check out and the manner in which you will be informed about the latest news that is happening around you.
This recent repeal comes as a much-needed breather to the internet community including small online businesses and domestic users of the internet. With the 3-2 rollback vote that FCC came up with, Mr. Ajit Pai, the Chairman of FCC at a press conference expressed his happiness quoting that deregulation of internet norms will help safeguard the principles of open internet.
Once this order becomes a law, it will come as a relief to both the sections of business entrepreneurs and general internet consumers. They will have all the freedom to check out any section of the internet and grasp everything and anything that the World Wide Web offers. They can go ahead and browse the net without any restrictions. And once the whip is cracked on the removal of high-handed regulations that come in the way of installing digital infrastructure, doors will open for startups and consumers. Both these sections will stand to benefit through cheaper, faster and improved internet access.
All in an attempt to safeguard the open and free internet, the above steps will help netizens secure their fundamental rights alongside curbing media consolidation by a handful of ISPs. All the above strategies will not only help you protect your freedom of the press but will also ensure the collation of diverse voices coming from different parts of the globe in favor of Net Neutrality.