December 14, 2018

BY LUCAS HUTTERI

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially killed net neutrality. Last month, the five-member panel voted three to two to repeal the laws enacted just two years ago that ensured a free and open Internet.

The rollback of net neutrality will affect every American, but few are aware of it, or if they are, they don’t fully grasp the situation.

Net neutrality is the principle and idea that every Internet service provider must treat all data on the Internet equally. Providers cannot charge different prices by user, content, application, method of communication, attached equipment, website, platform or user. Basically, Americans and Canadians pay a set price for Internet access and can then go anywhere we want.

What the FCC has done is repeal that in the U.S. As a result, Americans will be paying more for services they already receive. In fact, Internet service providers could bundle popular websites and applications, just like cable TV does. Also, providers could throttle or even block sites not in your bundle.

A good example of what this could look like is in Portugal – a country without net neutrality. Portugal offers different packages featuring websites and applications that are always available to residents, but the usage of any other website or application uses up some of their monthly data allowance. Once that allowance is used up, you can no longer access anything outside the featured apps and websites on your plan without paying extra. For instance, there is a social media package that allows usage of apps such as Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram without cutting into your monthly data. You can use these websites and applications after you reach your data limit, but you cannot use anything else.

Now that the FCC has repealed net neutrality, Americans could be facing a similar situation. It’s just another way for companies to squeeze more money out of the average citizen. How does this affect Canadian citizens? Services like Netflix and Spotify may have to pay fees to ensure they are in packages within the U.S., which could drive up prices everywhere else.

And it may affect the entertainment industry, which uses the Internet to showcase content.

For the time being, it looks as though Canada is relatively safe. In November of this year, Trudeau expressed concern regarding the FCC’s attacks on net neutrality, and claimed he will “fight tooth and nail” to defend it. In his statement he also recognized that net neutrality is essential to small businesses, consumers and for the freedom of the Internet overall.

The repealing of net neutrality won’t affect me personally, but it affects the American entertainers and service providers I use every day. I want them to continue to succeed. Nearly all of them depend on the Internet and net neutrality to make a living.

Since the U.S. is one of the largest powers on the planet, other countries might think they should follow suit.

However, net neutrality should be supported, and everyone should be rallying against any repeals, American or not.

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