By Orla Forrest, Irish Telecom
Net neutrality refers to the provision of a completely open Internet whereby any user can access and post online content that they please, in the knowledge that it will not be censored by Internet service providers (ISPs). For most web users, it is the preferred state of affairs, as their views will not be censored, while mega-rich corporations are prevented from pricing users out of an online presence. However, ISPs and a minority of users will tell you that online content should be prioritized in order of importance and that heavy users should be charged more so that bandwidth can be distributed more appropriately.
The net neutrality debate has been a venomous one at times in the U.S., with the FCC becoming involved in running battles with other parties. While the Obama administration strongly advocated net neutrality, it appears likely that Trump’s troops, who oppose the concept, could undo much of the legislation that has been introduced in recent years.
Were that to happen, a lot of people would be up in arms. It would be especially disastrous for small start-up businesses who are trying to gain a foothold in terms of having an online presence, as the abolition of net neutrality would deny them the fair competition that currently exists. Google is a prime example of a company that was able to grow exponentially because of an open Internet. Minority communities would also be greatly affected by the possible abolition of net neutrality, as their views could be censored by ISPs and they would likely be subjected to suppression.
A survey by Know Your Target Market showed that most Internet users would demonstrably show their opposition if popular high-bandwidth websites such as Netflix and Pandora were blocked, slowed down or incurred a fee to use. Almost half of users would switch to a different ISP or complain to their current provider. More than 1 in 10 would go as far as cancelling their Internet service entirely, while 14% would complain to the relevant government authority. Only 1 in 5 admitted that they wouldn’t take any action.
The net neutrality debate is one that will continue to polarize opinion, depending upon the best interests of the stakeholders involved. To learn more about the concept and determine which side of the divide you occupy, take a look at this infographic from Irish Telecom.