Imagine you got a cell phone. Well, maybe you already have a phone, but hear us out. What if the phone company decided who you would call and what you would say? Not fair, you would say, and you’d be right. Ok, fair enough—the phone company should not decide who you call and what you say.
Then what about the internet? Your internet is provided by internet companies like Comcast or Verizon. Can they decide what content you can access or how fast you can download your videos or apps? No, said the FCC (or Federal Communications Commission), and that is why in 2015, millions of activists pushed the FCC to adopt what was called net neutrality rules.
The goal? To keep the internet open and free for anyone to share and access information without restrictions. That is why you can download a video of that latest song just like your cousin can in another part of the country.
But now, net neutrality is under fire again because the FCC voted to overturn this decision. This means the rule that everyone should have fair access to the internet is in jeopardy. Why did the FCC change its mind?
Well, the FCC—or any government organization—is made up of people, of course. So, elections in November 2016 meant a new FCC and a new leader to replace the chairman. The new chairman, Ajit Pai, believes that net neutrality rules are too strict and that they stop companies from trying new ideas. What type of ideas? According to Chairman Pai, internet providers should be able to experiment with different ways to charge for the internet, and that could ultimately benefit the user.
However, those who oppose Chairman Pai think that if net neutrality is overthrown, there will be too much power given to internet companies. What if Comcast decided that you couldn’t access a show from a competitor and they blocked it?!
Supporters of net neutrality called for a “Day of Action” on July 12, when millions spoke out against Chairman Pai’s efforts, but so far, it sounds like the FCC is moving ahead on removing net neutrality rules.