What would our digital media environment look like without Net Neutrality. Who is for Net Neutrality and why and who is against it and why?
Net Neutrality is the idea that all forms of communication on the internet should be treated equally (Honan, 2015). Similarly, the idea of the ‘open internet’, was defined by the FCC (2015) as an internet where “consumers can go where they want, when they want”.
The idea of an open internet has been challenged multiple times, most notably in 2011, when the US Government attempted to pass the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) bills. These “propose that anyone found guilty of streaming copyrighted content without permission 10 or more times within six months should face up to five years in jail” (BBC, 2012). Due to outside situations in the US Government, voting on these bills was postponed, and no agreement on them has yet been reached.
In 2012, the FCC began considering the value of Net Neutrality being required by law. This caused many people to voice their opinions, both for and against, Net Neutrality. Everyday users of the internet are the primary advocates of keeping the internet neutral, as changes to the way they interact with the internet will affect them greatly. Ammori (2014) outlines the basis of the argument for Net Neutrality, saying the Government has two choices, “allow the Internet to remain an a engine of innovation, a platform for speech in even the harshest tyrannies, and a unified connection for people across the globe — or cede control of the Internet to service providers motivated by their parochial interests.” ISP providers on the other hand, could benefit greatly without Net Neutrality, as they could then limit their users access to certain sites, offering them for a set price per month, and so making a much greater profit off their users.
Ciarlo (2013) created a graphic depicting what could happen if Net Neutrality was no longer around:
(Screenshot from http://www.theopeninter.net/, an infographic about Net Neutrality and its benefits)
In conclusion, I believe making Net Neutrality a legal obligation is the only way for the internet to remain as free and accessible as it currently is. To allow ISP providers to alter what content they give their users would significantly decrease the quality of the internet experience.