How Much Freedom Should Internet Providers Have?

In this article published by Scientific American, the author introduces a concept called Net neutrality.  This idea revolves around giving equal internet speed and unlimited access to legal websites without service providers (such as Verizon and Comcast) filtering out content.  The article explores several pros and cons of Net neutrality.  While this idea promotes free speech and small business start up, there are also several ways that it can be exploited.  People can use new technology to use free features on networks that companies spent billions or dollars to start up.  Even though this promotes the creation of new technology (such as Uber and Facebook), companies that create these channels for internet access have no say in what passes through them.  I believe that there is a grey area where internet providers can still have some say in what passes through their networks while still promoting freedom of speech.  This is a hot-button topic as the FCC and Supreme Court have already dealt with several matters and as the internet is evolving, this situation is unlikely to go away.

In a related article on Scientific American, the author informs us that the FCC is toying with the idea of “fast lanes”, which users would pay extra for a speedier broad band internet service.  This concept has been shot down on multiple occasions, mostly due to that fast that this would “strangle the free flow of information around the Web”.  I personally feel that the internet is a public service and allowing large companies to pay extra for higher speeds, as well as restricting what passes through their networks cripples the general public and stunts their source of information.  These articles only further blur the lines of what is fair to the public and what the rights of the internet providers are.  These issues have gone back and forth in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit.  How could such a proposal that infringes the ability of small businesses to start up, as well as limits public knowledge all while compromising First Amendment rights even be up for debate?  We’ll see what happens in the next several years as the FCC continues their push to strike down Net neutrality.

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