Net neutrality is a term used to refer to the concept that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat content being transmitted through them equally. This means that providers should not be able to block or slow the receipt of information regardless of what that information is. Net neutrality encourages freedom of information, expression, and speech by disallowing the discrimination of views and ideas through the flow of information. So why is this important? Our nation was founded on the idea of freedom through speech and expression. Shielding people from the information they attempt to seek out is infringing on the rights of Americans as citizens of the country.
For two years, there was a net neutrality order that the Federal Communications Commission passed in 2015. The presidential administrations of both Obama and Bush pushed for protections over net neutrality, but in 2017, a newly republican-controlled FCC reserved that order which allowed providers to decide what information they wanted to block or filter from users if any.
Net neutrality protects everyone and prevents discrimination. It forbids ISPs from partnering with large companies that seek to hide information about their smaller competitors, making it a challenge for them to grow. By enforcing net neutrality, the playing field is equal for everyone. Nothing, and no one is censored. Viewpoints and beliefs can be equally expressed and shared, which is the definition of freedom of speech and expression, two very important features of the United States. Ironically, net neutrality is not legally enforced in the states. It is, however, part of European law.
The concept of net neutrality has been debated in the states for many years. Some argue that it is dangerous because it allows access to websites containing material not suitable for young eyes. They might say enforcing net neutrality would increase the number of children being exposed to things like porn and violent videos, but in the UK, there are laws that address this problem and, in turn, protect their kids from seeing what they shouldn’t.
The term “net neutrality” was first mentioned in a paper written in 2003 by Tim Wu, a professor of Law at Columbia University. In the 35-page paper, Wu outlines the concept of net neutrality and online discrimination. Providers had already begun banning online features at that time. Comcast prohibited the use of VPNs and virtual private networks, and AT&T forbade WiFi routers from being used by their customers. This increased fear among advocates for net neutrality and led to the push for it.
The first president to take action for net neutrality was George W. Bush when in 2005, he issued a policy statement forbidding Internet Service Providers from blocking users from accessing legal content or connecting to the internet on the device of their choosing. After being sued by two different service providers for attempting to enforce this statement, the FCC lost both cases and continued its fight for net neutrality. Their attempts have failed further since the repeal of the order made in 2015. Learn more by clicking here.