What is Net Neutrality and How to Show Support

Christopher Sewerd Policy

A new FFC Open Internet Order, Barrack Obama landing himself in hot water for his input and ISPs still wanting to squeeze extra profit, yes, it’s Net Neutrality, the term that has been on the tip of American tongues for the past 12 months.

With more twists and turns than a roller-coaster, keeping up with the latest in the Net Neutrality can be a headache, I’ve been attempting to get my head around the latest developments to share them with you. LiquidVPN has published several articles about Net Neutrality here, here and here.

What’s all this Net Neutrality anyway?

What is blindingly obvious is men in stuffy suits, who are well aged and would be what is classed as “silver surfers” are the ones that hold the future to an open internet in the United States, something that also has wide implications for users in the rest of the world. However aside from protest, US consumers have very little say in the matter and those outside of the US don’t even feature in consideration.

To understand the latest developments we need to revisit 2010. Back then a document established by the then FCC chairman known as the Open Internet Order was thrown out,. When the latest FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, was appointed in 2013 he originally stated that he wished to reintroduce the Open Internet Order to protect Net Neutrality, although after outcry and over 4 million public comments, Wheeler was convinced to change his mind.

With pressure from the public and various organisations, Wheeler conceded that the Open Internet Order was not sufficient enough to protect Net Neutrality and so a new draft proposal was created and circulated internally at the FCC on February 5th, 2015.

Obama Net Neutrality comments land him in hot water

While the full details of the proposal haven’t been made public, it is rumoured that it has been heavily influenced by the US President, Barack Obama who waded in to the debate last November. This public support for Net Neutrality by such a high profile figure has angered some in congress causing The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to write to FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler and request details of all communications between the White House and FCC.

The committee are concerned that “views expressed by the White House potentially had improper influence on the development of the draft Open Internet Order” and as such are requesting access to all documents related to communication between the White House and FCC including any information related to those working on Net Neutrality all the way back to January 2014.

What the Open Internet Order means for you

The FCC has been in support of Net Neutrality for over a decade, but the issue is how broadband internet is classified in the United States and it is the classification that gives the FCC the power to regulate and ensure that the freedom of information is transmitted without prioritisation, much to the annoyance of the large internet providers. They would prefer to enlarge their already gross profits by charging content providers more depending on the type of content that is being transferred.

Although the draft order has not been made public, FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler recently published an article on popular tech site Wired.com that outlined some of the areas of which the order hopes to protect, calling them the “strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC”. Some of the areas covered include :-

  • Ban Paid Prioritisation – Stopping ISPs from charging larger organisations to pay for the privilege of delivering content quicker than those who can not pay such as smaller business who can not afford such costs.
  • Ban Blocking – Providers will not be able to block consumers from accessing any legal internet site or service. So regardless of your poison, you can access anything freely, as long as it isn’t illegal of course!
  • Ban Throttling – One of the most important aspects is to stop ISPs from throttling services that they see as high bandwidth. No longer would companies such as Comcast be able to slow Netflix traffic, it will be treated the same regardless.
  • Apply the rules to mobile broadband – For the first time ever the rules will apply to mobile internet so that users can go wherever and have the same level of cover as a home broadband connection
  • Protect tech start-ups – Net Neutrality in its essence allows small companies and those with an idea to flourish. Stopping large corporations from having a distinct advantage due to funding availability will allow anyone with a good idea to compete. Just as companies such as Google and Facebook grew from small one or two man bands in to the giants they are now, this ethos will continue for generations to come.

The new proposal by Wheeler is expected to be voted on, on February 26th, 2015. Although with the The House Committee chomping at the heels of the FCC and large telecom companies likely to launch appeals after a decision on the Open Internet Order, the Net Neutrality circus certainly hasn’t left town just yet and the grass root support groups still need your help persuading the rest of the American government that we must keep the internet open and available to everyone. If you would like to show your support for Net Neutrality please go to the Save the internet website