Net Neutrality 2018
As the last six weeks of 2017 unfolded, many Americans were preoccupied with the raging fires in California, the approaching holidays, and federal tax reform. Meanwhile, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had his own agenda. He wanted to simply, as he put it “ Take the internet back to 2014”. Why 2014? That was before the February 2015 meeting of the FCC, led by then chairman Tom Wheeler, to enact provisions that were intended to preserve net neutrality in the United States.
At that time, Wheeler saw the changes occurring within the ISP, internet, and entertainment industries that would give these organizations far too much power to control the internet and how content could and would be accessed. He, in fact, was quoted as saying “(These) providers have both the economic incentive and the technological capability to abuse their gatekeeper position.” He saw the need for net neutrality rules that would prevent ISPs from either throttling back or even blocking content and from using their power to decide what services are prioritized to whom. Since 2015, net neutrality rules have prevented ISPs from exercising this potential power to control speed, access, and content. It could be argued net neutrality rules have forced them to be more creative and consumer friendly in competitively positioning their products and services.
Now as 2018 makes its debut, net neutrality regulations have been rolled back to 2014. The “new” rules require that ISPs disclose any blocking, throttling or prioritization that takes place from either them or their partners. Many are concerned, however, the control of the internet is in the hands of mega-content providers, entertainment giants, and ISPs with little to no restrictions. So what’s next? What is the effect on the American digital consumer likely to be and is any hope for net neutrality gone forever?