Net neutrality has been repealed under the Trump government. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under Obama’s instructions, tightened rules to prevent Internet providers from blocking or charging for certain sites. The move has spelled good news for Internet companies whose profits were hampered by neutrality. Rejoicing their win, the new decision has been pegged to displace freedom woes among companies and users alike. And now with the US mid-term results having arrived, there’s a new fold in store for neutrality.
But first, let’s take a look at the fears of Net Neutrality and why its repeal is a welcomed move.
Unhealthy and unfair competition between large companies
Net neutrality significantly increased competition between companies. Say, for example, if you want to watch a video on YouTube instead of on Netflix, it could stream slower if Netflix has paid more to the service provider. This concept is known as ‘fast lanes’, wherein; large companies buy their way into more viewership, thus stepping upon smaller companies.
Small companies would have suffered big time
The smaller companies would bear the brunt of net neutrality the most and their dreams of becoming the next Google or Facebook would be squashed. This is because they usually don’t have enough capital to pay service providers in order to be preferred over other well-established websites. They may also be unable to pay for faster speeds, making it difficult for their target audience to easily access the site. This would effectively end or greatly limit all paths for them and even startups to grow and prosper.
ISPs would have been the biggest winners
The Internet Service Providers would be the ultimate decision makers with all the strings being in their hands and the power to cut the strings if need be. This would mean that the websites would keep shoving money in order to be prioritised over other websites, while the ISPs would sit and enjoy large profits. In fact, companies like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T are already supporting the removal of net neutrality, given how much they would benefit from it.
Internet users would have restricted access to the online content
Removal of Net Neutrality would clearly be a nightmare for the netizens. They might not be able to access the websites they are very easily able to access today.
For instance, your Internet Service Provider for X amount might give you a package where you can access Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram. Now say, you want to access YouTube and Wikipedia, you will have to buy another package of X amount. Similarly, you will have to purchase different packages for different websites that you are interested in. This severely restricts the content one can access on a day-to-basis, making it inconvenient and expensive. It also encroaches upon the basic Internet rights of the people.
The tremors of this would be felt in India too
Even though the epicenter would be America, the tremors would have reached India and other countries too. Say, you are an organisation operating in India and most of your content is targeted towards Indians and Americans, amongst others. There will be a sharp drop in your consumer base sitting in America as they would now have to pay an extra amount just to consume the content you are providing. This could severely impact your company’s reach and revenue.
Do you support the move? Or are you in favour of neutrality? Here’s a 5 point guide to help you decide.