Discuss about the Net Neutrality and Human Rights.
The internet (net) links billions of devices worldwide using the TCP/IP protocol suite by interconnecting computer networks. The Net neutrality (internet/ network neutrality) is a component of the open internet. It is the principle that the government and the internet service providers should not charge differently or discriminate any data on the web by content, site, user, platform or modes of communication. According to Belli, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sees the internet as a fragile ecosystem, which is under threat from opportunistic broadband providers (In Belli, In De, Cerf, & Pouzin, 2016). In 2010, the FCC imposed network neutrality regulations on both wireless and wired broadband-access providers. The agency claims that the design of the internet was such that there would be no “gatekeepers.” Despite there being disputes, the FCC has moved ahead to vote in new rules that will affect the regulation of the broadband internet in the U.S. The FCC’s proposal is inadequate because exercising of unfettered control over people’s use of the internet creates risks to economic and technological growth (Belli, 2015).
According to Open Internet case report by the European Union (“Open Internet | Digital Single Market,” n.d.), there are various industries that will be affected by this decision. The internet services providers will have to bear with the slow speeds since a lot of people will be accessing the internet. Rich media services will also affect how people will upload games and upcoming streams. It will act as a barrier to smut free internet that will change social media through blogs that will result in higher prices and diminished quality of services of web publishers. Consumers seem to benefit from this decision it would put similar pricing on the internet (Sørensen, 2015a).
Kanellos argues that we have two sides in a dispute concerning net neutrality. Providers aim at regulating their broadband so that they can utilize it to pursue their interests to favor their internet service provision. On the other side, there are the proponents of “internet neutrality” who believe that to foster economic growth and innovation; the government should regulate the internet. The FCC chair’s proposal says that companies which stream content if they wish, they should be able to pay internet providers for direct access to customers which will result in increased streaming speeds (Kanellos, 2015). The proposal goes ahead to protect companies that cannot or do not want to pay for the direct access to customers which means that internet service providers (ISPs) will be prohibited from slowing down the streaming speed for those who eat up more bandwidth and treat those services like any other data. This is not the right solution because it gives enormous companies with a lot of money advantage over the startup companies, which cannot be able to afford to pay for direct access to internet users. According to Marsden, the young firms must rely on the certainty of rules that do not discriminate for them to grow, build new technologies and create jobs. Also, the consumer will also suffer because these large companies will be in a position to charge them what they want without worrying about people moving on to their competitors (Marsden, 2015).
Musiani & Löblich believes that there are oppositions as well as proposers of the legal support for the internet neutrality. The proposers argue that the government should prevent the ISPs restriction of the content received by the consumers. The opponents on the other side fall into two categories. The first group believes that legislation is not necessary, as consumer behavior will prevent abuse. The second group believes that the ISPs should be able to provide services to the internet users as they see fit. ISPs argue that with the adoption of these regulations, they will not be able to support the high-bandwidth content associated with not restricting the speed of internet access (Musiani & Löblich, 2015) which is not the case as high bandwidth is not as resource intensive as the ISPs claim. When the connectivity is at its peak, resource utilization is still under 50 percent.
Pouzin further claims that the civil rights advocates are concerned about the FCC’s proposal. The African-American civil rights organizations are worried that the plan is implemented, could limit its members’ ability of people hearing them. Also, Pouzin claimed that the FCC’s move is political. Republicans threatened to cut the FCC’s budget if they went too far in enforcing the internet neutrality. The lawmakers against the agency argued that the “federal bureaucrats” are not supposed to decide how conveying of information is done over the World Wide Web (Pouzin, 2015).
Questions arose about schools standing in line like other internet users for acceptable speeds of the internet under the proposed FCC’s rules. Molnar argued that the proposed regulations are problematic for schools. Schools might find themselves challenged in using the digital learning services and tools not unless the ISP’s do offer them some preferential treatment. According to Stylianou, there are advantages and disadvantages of the FCC’s proposal. Charging of high fees to consumers who use a lot of bandwidth could enable the building of advanced optical fiber networks, which permit new internet services. On the other hand, there would be no freedom of speech as big companies like Comcast would prioritize their own TV networks’ videos slowing down its rivals’ signals. Stylianou sees the whole FCC proposal as a joke because initially, it classified ISPs as information as opposed to a telecommunication service. An “information service” is not susceptible to regulations (Stylianou, 2015). The chair, who voted on that issue initially, is now the chief lobbyist for the telecommunication companies.
Net neutrality is a policy. Besides the technical concern that faces it, there are economic, legal and political issues that are related to net neutrality. Internet service providers have been providing quality services depending on the price paid. Now they have to compete with their other counterparts to offer cheaper and faster services to remain in business. If this issue is implemented, it will kill competition for the operator's facility. The legal issues that surround net neutrality are the ability of internet service providers to stop traffic or block material that may infringe on copyright. The decision on what is genuinely “lawful content” cannot be determined by the internet providers or regulators. The political issue is whether the government can manage traffic based on the origin or destination, content or service by imposing such practices through the introduction of traffic filters which will increase the risk of the misuse of network management for censorship (Sørensen, 2015b).
In conclusion, the ramifications of net neutrality of businesses and institutions are detrimental to business and institution while advantageous to the consumers. Companies and institutions believe that net neutrality will foster anti-competition. They will have to pay additional charges to maintain the bandwidth for its consumers; there will be a lot of monitoring of the internet users. Issues that will deal with censorship will not be applicable anymore. Customer will benefit from net neutrality in that they will be no restrictions on what parts of the internet people can access. Net neutrality promotes a level playing ground for everyone. The net neutrality policy will be a success as it will protect people from unbiased internet service providers who filter or degrade services to consumers depending on how much they pay. It will help in providing a level playing ground and prevent exploitation from the internet service providers.
Belli, L. (2015). End-to-End, Net Neutrality and Human Rights. Net Neutrality Compendium, 13-29. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-26425-7_2
In Belli, L., In De, F. P., Cerf, V. G., & Pouzin, L. (2016). Net neutrality compendium: Human rights, free competition and the future of the Internet.
Kanellos, L. (2015). Safety, Privacy and Net Neutrality Aspects of Civilian Drones. Net Neutrality Compendium, 271-279. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-26425-7_20
Marsden, C. T. (2015). Zero Rating and Mobile Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality Compendium, 241-260. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-26425-7_18
Musiani, F., & Löblich, M. (2015). Net Neutrality from a Public Sphere Perspective. Net Neutrality Compendium, 43-52. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-26425-7_4
Open Internet | Digital Single Market. (n.d.). Retrieved May 6, 2018, from https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/policies/open-internet-net-neutrality
Pouzin, L. (2015). Net Neutrality and Quality of Service. Net Neutrality Compendium, 73-78. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-26425-7_7
Stylianou, K. (2015). The Persistent Problems of Net Neutrality or Why Are We Still Lacking Stable Net Neutrality Regulation. Net Neutrality Compendium, 211-229. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-26425-7_16
Sørensen, F. (2015). A Norwegian Perspective on European Regulation of Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality Compendium, 231-239. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-26425-7_17
Sørensen, F. (2015). Specialised Services and the Net Neutrality Service Model. Net Neutrality Compendium, 99-107. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-26425-7_9