Net neutrality might sound like a mundane word to explain a meaningless issue that doesn’t affect you. But without Net Neutrality, companies can buy priority access to ISP customers. Essentially it becomes about who has more money and not what the content is. We feel that ISPs should give each website equal preference over another regardless of any technical or economical payment, this in our opinion is the ethical thing to do!
In 2010 the FCC first introduced the open internet order to attempt to prevent large telecommunication firms from overtaking innovation and competition online. They wanted to “preserve the Internet as an open platform enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, end-user control, competition, and the freedom to innovate without permission”, however there intention soon fell short when internet providers began to find loopholes in the regulation.
In 2014 , the FCC introduced new Net Neutrality rules that would prohibit ISPs from blocking websites, however they would be able to charge companies for preferential treatment if it was honed to be commercially reasonable (Bartees Cox Jr,2014) So the question arose, is this it ethical to favour a company for a financial gain?
Mobile Service providers have found a number of loopholes to avoid following the FCC rules by the book, one of which is the exception of data caps for certain companies. If a customer will save data usage from using one website instead of another of course they’ll take advantage of this (Jon Brodkin , 2016 ).
T-Mobile has probably faced the most criticism from those in favour of Net Neutrality over its “Binge On” video program, which exempts certain video providers from data caps and throttles almost all videos in order to reduce data usage (Jon Brodkin , 2016 ). Let’s put this into a real life example, let’s say you wanted to watch YouTube but couldn’t as T-Mobile released a similar product but without those cate videos you love. Their data usage policy would mean you’d be forced to watch T-Tube as opposed to YouTube. Does that sound fair to you?
In my opinion, the worrying thing is that these service providers are in denial, and even when they are criticised and questioned on their actions, they dispute them. Not only are they acting unethically and preventing smaller companies from having free and open internet , they are doing so purposely and strategically for their own gain.
This has a huge effect on small innovative start-ups trying to make there way on the internet. This has become especially apparent in India where 500 startups are pleading for the introduction of Net Neutrality however the current government is ignoring the situation and allowing telecom companies to offer zero ratings plans and charge over the top prices for specific services. The argument in India being proposed by Rahul Gandhi, congress Vice President, is that without Net Neutrality innovation can’t prosper and India can therefore not grow, “the internet is a powerful poverty alleviation tool, offering unbounded opportunities- whether it is a farmer looking for information on monsoon, artisans connecting with buyers in a market place or a college student from rural India enrolling for an online course”. ( ET Bureau, 2016)
So without Net Neutrality what does the internet become? An article in the guardian suggests what it will become. “Only net neutrality can protect the internet from becoming like TV:white,middle-class and exclusive.” (Malkia Cyril, 2015). In many ways it has this potential, large companies can start to charge extra to access certain sites. Imagine calling your internet provider asking “I’d like to be able to access my Netflix” to where you’ll get a response “Oh, you’re on the sponsored only package” this is where you get a barrage of prices for the access of different sites, much like our TV packages today.
Some could argue that companies are there to make money. But is it ethical to block what people see? Should censorship be imposed for the sake of profit? I know what my opinion is. What yours? Comment below.
FCC To Allow Commercial Discrimination on the Internet,Bartees Cox Jr,2014
FCC had “productive” net neutrality talks with Comcast and T-Mobile, Jon Brodkin,2016
Rahul Gandhi targets Narendra Modi government on Net Neutrality,ET Bureau,2016
Vodafone TV’s clever mobile data trick tests net neutrality,Irish Independant,2016
Verizon, one of net neutrality’s biggest foes, says it’s ready to test sponsored data, Zach Epstein,2016
Only net neutrality can protect the internet from becoming like TV: white, middle-class and exclusive,Malkia Cyril,2015