Your internet is in danger


On Dec. 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will decide the fate of the internet.

The proposed vote will determine whether the net neutrality rules, that were put into place in 2015, should be repealed. Under this new ruling, the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will no longer be compelled to offer equal internet service to all consumers.

What could change:

ISPs could slow down the service of websites they don’t like. They could also block websites at their leisure and prioritize paid content.

“It’s really unfair to not have access to everything you want to see,” environmental engineering major Stella Yee said.

ISPs are no stranger to fighting dirty. Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T blocked Google Wallet in favor of a mobile payment app called Isis. Comcast retaliated against BitTorrent by slowing down their internet speed. AT&T has previously blocked access to video chatting apps. But under the previous rules, the FCC was able to remedy these issues.

Dismantling net neutrality transfers control from the consumer to the provider. By giving ISPs the ability to cherry pick the content that users can see and use, it makes the results of any search biased. “I wouldn’t trust it,” said Clayton Chin, a Skyline math major.

Who’s in charge?

The FCC is made up of five board members. The 2015 ruling on net neutrality was passed under the Obama administration when the FCC had a democratic majority. But now, the FCC is led by Ajit Pai, who used to be a lawyer for Verizon and who favors government deregulation in the internet industry. With a yea/nay ratio on the elimination of net neutrality now at three-two, “open internet” may soon be a thing of the past.

Who benefits?

ISPs will now hold all the power if they pass the new ruling. They can “blackmail” sites by slowing down their internet service and offer faster internet speeds to those that pay them more. They could also block access to sites that offer competition to their own, thereby creating a further monopoly over resources. Big ISPs such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon could get bigger on the profits from smaller sites and consumers’ higher internet fees.

Who loses?


Small businesses would struggle to pay higher fees to the ISPs which could slow or stop their growth and make it hard for others to get traffic to their site. This would stunt the industry and discourage some from creating a start-up. Consumers may also have to pay more to access sites that the ISPs do not deem a ‘priority’. This means, that consumers could be paying more, just to get adequate internet speed on certain sites.

Another key issue of the dissolution of net neutrality would be ISPs ability to block certain sites. Columbia law professor Tim Wu, who coined the term “net neutrality” says this is “really pretty shocking” in an interview with The New York Times. Never before have ISPs been able to block content. This could become a bit of a slippery slope, with ISPs becoming the ultimate authority on what they allow users to see. Some students such as chemistry major Brendan Wong disagree with the FCCC’s new intentions, “They [ISPs] don’t have the right to tell us what we can look at on the internet,” Wong said.

Companies like AT&T and Charter promise to follow the 2015 net neutrality rules, but without federal regulation, there is no way to enforce that.

What’s been done?

Last Week Tonight host and comedian John Oliver went viral in 2014 after his plea for internet users to send comments to the FCC to not destroy net neutrality resulted in 4 million comments on the FCC’s website that caused it to crash.