The repeal of the Open Internet Order

The+repeal+of+the+Open+Internet+Order

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the Open Internet Order, a set of guidelines that the FCC created under President Barack Obama‘s administration to protect the free distribution and accessibility of information on the Internet, Thursday, December 14, 2017FCC Chairman Mr. Ajit Pai proposed the repeal because he believes the rules are too strict and can lead to the halting of innovation and competition, according to pbs.org.
“We have proof that markets work: For almost two decades, the U.S. had a free and open internet without these heavy-handed rules. There was no market failure before 2015. Americans weren’t living in a digital dystopia before the FCC seized power,” Mr. Pai said of the years before the Open Internet Order, according to washingtonexaminer.com.
The goals of the order were to protect net neutrality by recognizing that the Internet is a gateway to the modern world of communication and setting rules that preserve the right of citizens to use the Internet freely.

“The open Internet drives the American economy and serves, every day, as a critical tool for America’s citizens to conduct commerce, communicate, educate, entertain, and engage in the world around them. The benefits of an open Internet are undisputed. But it must remain open: open for commerce, innovation, and speech; open for consumers and for the innovation created by applications developers and content companies; and open for expansion and investment by America’s broadband providers,” reads the introduction of the Open Internet Order

The rules strove to provide a free online discourse for individuals and large-scale organizations, while also preventing larger corporations such as AT&T Inc. (AT&T), Comcast Corporation (Comcast), and Verizon Wireless from increasing Internet speeds for people who pay higher rates while slowing speeds for those who do not, according to the executive summary of the order. 

Commissioner Mr. Brendan Carr, Commissioner Ms. Mignon Clyburn, Chairman Mr. Ajit Pai, Commissioner Mr. Michael O’Rielly, and Commissioner Mrs. Jessica Rosenworcel approved the repeal of the net neutrality act. Courtesy of techspot.com.

 
Mr. Pai and proponents of the repeal believe the termination of the Open Internet Order will eventually help consumers, because broadband providers, such as AT&T and Comcast, can now offer consumers a wider variety of service options. He also believes the repeal could improve access and speed because the companies can expand access to certain popular sites, therefore, avoiding website crashes and subsequent slow reception, according to The New York Times.
Larger corporations and conservative members of the FCC argue that the regulations under the order impose unnecessary government interference on the free market of the Internet. Mr. Pai claimed that the repeal would correct this perceived overstep. He and his supporters see the repeal not as a way of blocking the Internet, but rather as a way to allow companies to compete with each other to provide consumers with quality service, according to forbes.com.
Fear of the alternate extreme, however, has lead many citizens and Internet users to protest against what they see as government negligence, according to The New York Times. Now, they fear corporations will divide the Internet into two: a faster service that requires payment, or a slower service that will affect the majority of Internet users, according tcornellcurrent.com.
Proponents of net neutrality include some small business owners and entrepreneurs who argue that open and equal access to the Internet is essential for launching their businesses, building markets, advertising their products and services, and influencing customers, according to savetheinternet.com.
Additionally, many students both in high school and college have begun to speak out against the repeal. Students spend a lot of time online both socially and educationally, so the possibility of economic barriers to certain websites on which they rely has led to outrage and action, according to studybreaks.com.
This political cartoon depicts those in favor of net neutrality’s fear that revoking the Open Internet Order will lead to economic barriers to Internet content. Courtesy of cornellcurrent.com.

  1. Both consumers and small businesses are especially apprehensive due to previous abuses of Internet control by companies. For example, November 2012, AT&T blocked FaceTime on iPhones with limited plans that were using its network, according to The New York Times.

The customers argued that AT&T was in violation of net neutrality rules and wanted FaceTime to be available for all, including those with limited and unlimited plans, according to bits.blogs.nytimes.com.
In the weeks leading up to and following the December 14 decision,  supporters of net neutrality have protested, claiming that they will take the FCC to court to stop the policy change. Additionally, the supporters have begun to take action by creating a petition to promote an open Internet. 
“The FCC is moving to end net neutrality — which could mean giving big cable companies room to charge extra fees. Without net neutrality, Internet service providers can choose what you see online, favoring some sources or blocking others,” according to change.org.
FCC Commissioner Mr. Michael O’Rielly believes that if the FCC were to create any laws going forward to protect net neutrality, they must be less restrictive than the rules the commission outlined in 2015. Yet, supporters see that this legal leniency could allow companies to charge customers extra to use faster lanes of Internet service, according to The New York Times
Following the recent actions by democratic legislators, it will be up to the court system to address whether the repeal should be nullified or enforced. 
-Caroline Baranello, Staff Writer
Featured image courtesy of spectrum.ieee.org.