In the U.S. government, for several months now, the main battle of the internet has been figuring out how to prevent Russia from hacking into American databases and using it to influence elections. Now, there is a new battle over the internet taking place, and this battle is going to affect everyone.
How it affects everyone in the U.S. is that the Federal Communication Commission voted 2-1 on Thursday, which was down party lines, to replace net neutrality regulation.
According to USNews.com, net neutrality stops internet service providers from favoring their own apps and other services over competitors. In other words, a company like Comcast could make you pay to download apps like ESPN or your local news. It allows companies like Comcast and Charter to charge what they want for accessing the internet through them without problems from the government.
According to USA Today, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who is a republican appointed to the position in January by President Donald Trump, called net neutrality a regulation that is filled with lawyers and accountants. Also, that it puts it back into the hands of technologists and engineers
So, who are the players and what side are they on?
The top two broadband ISP providers are Comcast and Charter. They strongly support the passage, as they released a statement through Internet and Television Association CEO, who also is a former FCC Chairman, Michael Powell. According to the statement, the net-neutrality regulation is outdated and is actually harming innovation and availability of technology
On the other side of the aisle are tech companies like Verizon, At&T, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google. Verizon released a statement supporting net neutrality while AT&T expressed the same. Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Google are members of the Internet Association and CEO and President Michael Beckerman released a statement as well that stated the rules are working, the internet industry is opposed to any changes and that ISPs should not be allowed to prioritize content.
The evidence for both side are studies that were done.
Pai’s study was provided by Hal Singer, who is a consultant for the telecommunications industry and a net-neutrality critic, cites that infrastructure investment by network companies has declined 5.6 percent in 2016 from 2014. However, an advocacy group that supports net-neutrality, called Free Press, says it is flawed due to exclusion of spending by Sprint and AT&T. Their study actually concludes that infrastructure spending actually rose when you include Sprint and AT&T spending.
No matter who is right or wrong, one thing is definite: Thursday’s passage starts a three-month public comment period. First comments must be filed within 60 days, July 17, with another 30 days for replies to those by August 16.
That is a lot of time from now and as we seen in the news a lot of things can change between now and then. President Trump stated in his campaign that infrastructure is an important agenda for him. So, Congress could pickup the issue and pass legislation.