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What Is Net Neutrality And Why Should You Care?

12 July 2017, 3:52 pm EDT By Eric Brackett Tech Times
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Winnie the Pooh images removed by Chinese internet censors
The internet, as we know it, is in trouble. If we lose the fight for net neutrality then we lose the fight for an open and free internet.   ( Alex Wong | Getty Images )

Today, numerous tech companies are participating in a day of action in support of net neutrality, but some might be wondering what the purpose behind net neutrality is.

In short, net neutrality is the idea that all websites should be treated equally in order to foster a free and open internet. As the internet currently stands, users can go to any site they want and that site will not be blocked or throttled by their internet service providers. If someone wants to watch the newest season of Stranger Things, they don't have to worry about Comcast slowing down the stream in order to encourage users to watch a show on cable instead. Strangely enough, Netflix has expressed mixed support for net neutrality in the past.

The Future Of Net Neutrality And The Internet

That's how the internet currently works, but it could change. Donald Trump's FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, is an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration's policies which classified ISP as Title II carriers. Under this classification, the federal government has far broader powers to regulate ISPs and was able to enforce rules regarding net neutrality. However, if Pai's proposed changes go through then the federal government would lose its power to regulate these industries.

For his part, Pai has claimed that the title II restrictions are a burden on the market and could lead to increased prices and a lack of competition in the ISP marketplace. In terms of competition, things weren't very good prior to the title II restrictions, but they haven't gotten any worse either. There's little evidence to support the idea that Title II restrictions are responsible for the lack of competition in the marketplace.

That being said, there is a distinct lack of competition, especially in rural areas. There are still parts of the United States where people are forced to rely on either dial-up connections or pay for very expensive satellite internet service. Some tech companies, such as Microsoft, have pledged to fight this issue, but that just disproves Pai's point. Microsoft's plan to expand broadband access to rural Americans does not appear to be contingent on the repeal of Title II.

How To Protect Net Neutrality

Right now, the future of net neutrality is still up in the air. Pai's proposed changes haven't been voted on yet and the FCC is still taking public comments until July 17 so there's still time to speak out. Simply visit the FCC website and hit "Express" in order to write a comment or "New Filing" to include documents.

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Eric Brackett Tech Times editor Eric Brackett is a tech junkie and a gamer, covering science and technology. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for updates and his random thoughts on the latest trends in gaming, tech, and comic books.

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