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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

FCC ruling ensures net neutrality

In March, the Federal Communications Commission reclassified the Internet from an information service to a telecommunication service. This ruling will ensure the permanence of open Internet by giving the FCC more room than ever to regulate Internet service providers.

The need for keeping an open internet falls under the idea of net neutrality.

“Basically . . . the concept (of net neutrality is that) companies that handle internet traffic cannot filter certain kinds of traffic to give preferential treatment to (companies like) Google or Yahoo,” said Brian Grimes, who works for IT&S.

What this means is that Internet Service Providers, like Verizon and Time Warner Cable, cannot favor some sites and companies by speeding up their content or hinder other sites by blocking or slowing theirs.

If an ISP could slow a competitor’s service, think of the power Time Warner Cable would have over Netflix. ISPs could also charge companies in exchange for faster service and delegate slower service to those that cannot pay.

Dividing Internet service into fast and slow lanes would prompt Internet users to view faster sites over slower ones they may have otherwise used. Similarly, some companies would have a competitive advantage over others depending on how much money they can spare to pay fees. Any of this would jeopardize the Internet’s freedom and openness.

While some may argue that these new rules give the FCC too much power to regulate ISPs, they are necessary. Preserving net neutrality will keep the Internet free from bias by big companies and friendly for innovators, startup companies and new ideas.

David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, wrote a Politico article in which he explains how net neutrality keeps the Internet fertile for innovation.

“Using the Internet, people can turn hobbies into jobs  and passion into revenue,” said Karp. “No matter how big or small anyone’s ambitions, and no matter what their resources, (everyone) gets the same opportunity to succeed.”

In addition, the FCC claims it will use a light touch in regulating ISPs by only putting into practice a fraction of the regulations usually reserved for utilities classified under telecommunications.

First-year Ezra Stark thinks there are advantages and downsides to the ruling.

“From where I see it, the government should be involved in making sure the Internet is open, like with net neutrality,” said Stark. “But I don’t know about regulating the Internet like a utility or the FCC using a ‘light touch’ to regulate.”

I believe the light touch is the FCC’s best option. The FCC is clearly committed to maintaining net neutrality with only as much government regulation as needed.

The arguments made against the ruling have come from ISPs themselves. Verizon made an argument that the FCC was making this ruling in its own interest.

Still, I would rather put my trust in the FCC than Verizon. While it is doubtful that the FCC created this ruling to serve themselves, it is clear that ISPs could profit if there is less regulation in place.

Considering this, is quite likely that the light touch regulatory hand is in place to appease ISPs and courts since lawsuits are already underway from companies upset with increased regulation. To turn the full power of Title II, or telecommunications regulations, on ISPs would surely prompt even more lawsuits.

However, overall this ruling is the FCC’s best choice. It is better to ensure net neutrality than to leave the freedom of the Internet in jeopardy.

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