By Karin Zalcberg
I don’t know if you’ve been following the heightened debate on Net Neutrality, but the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) had just voted against it and it’s officially flat lined.
This is big news for business and even bigger news for consumers.
'Net Neutrality', which means that there is a legal outline that requires Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to treat websites equally. ISPs were prohibited from giving priority to specific sites and speeding those up that they favored and they were also prohibited from blocking sites whose agendas or opinions they disagreed with or simply weren't in business with.
Well, now the FCC has changed all of that.
The Internet prides itself on being non-discriminatory, a place for free minds, free commerce where every budding entrepreneur can make it on the web, because anyone has a chance to rank on Google or another search engine if they have the tenacity, right marketing and entrepreneurial drive. However, that free-market thinking, is now being heavily regulated.
The main concern of this action, called the most influential regulatory action of the Trump administration, is that the internet is going to get very biased. ISPs can easily ban sites that they don’t like and charge advertisers premium rates to get faster speeds or priority online.
The commissioners that voted against 'Net Neutrality' state that it’s better that the government does not regulate Internet conduct. They also state that banning, blocking, or discriminating against any website is going to be so unpopular in this day and age that ISPs won’t even try it.
Indeed, the internet providers did state that they have no intention of using this new regulation (or lack of) to discriminate against any site, obviously they are immensely excited for the extra advertising revenue they could now take advantage of.
The tech community is extremely disappointed. They see this as an end to the
Netflix tweeted this statement: "We're disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order."
The real concern here seems to be because of the highly politically charged atmosphere that this ruling could bring in. Internet providers could theoretically pick sides in politics, or be paid to pick sides and start blocking opinions information on a mass scale.
The perception of the Internet as a free space will undoubtedly change.
Where it gets really interesting is with hackers and cybersecurity. ISPs now have increased power to ban or block the darker web.
All the government needs to do is to pass a bill and ISPs could then block any website that they deem to be malicious or dangerous for the American public. This could potentially lead to either less availability of malware through blocking online malware marketplaces or simply more creative strategies by hackers to get around it.
I truly think that this is going to spark a much larger public debate with far and never ending implications. Either the public is going to side with the tech community and try to reverse the ruling, or we could start talking about the advantages of having “not so equal” Internet.