What is Net Neutrality?

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Photo courtesy of time.com

Photo courtesy of time.com

On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be voting on an issue important to all internet users: net neutrality.

According to www.fcc.gov, the FCC is an organization that “regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.”

In 2010, they organized “Open Internet Rules,” designed to prevent providers from impacting traffic on the web in a negative way.

Near the beginning of last year, the United States Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia declared that the FCC has the authority necessary to “regulate broadband Internet” services. However, they had no authority to dictate how these providers manage internet traffic.

If this vote for “net neutrality” were to go through, the internet would be treated as a public utility. Like water or electricity, broadband would be subjected to government authority. This raises the question: would this be a positive change?

Some commentators raise questions such as, “Would innovation on the net be hindered by government control?” Joshua Steimle of Forbes writes: “Think of an industry that has major problems. Public Schools? Health Care?”

He goes on to suggest that the government has too much control over programs like these. “Do you think we’d all be walking around with smartphones today if the government still ran the phone system?”

There are many questions that will have to be answered on both sides of the issue when it goes to court this February.

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