On Tuesday the Federal Trade Commision released a plan to dismantle regulations that ensure equal access to the internet. With these regulations removed, internet service providers could charge more to access certain content, and block access to other content.
A great example of how this might affect the general public is happening right now. Dish Network was not able to work out a new contract with CBS, and has removed the channel for its subscribers for the time being. Granted, there are other ways to access the content, like a digital antenna, or switching providers, but you can just imagine how this kind of negotiations could affect your internet access in the future without the net neutrality regulations. If Comcast doesn’t reach an agreement with Netflix to allow access to the service, all of Comcast’s customers could be restricted from Netflix.
Ajit Pai, the FCC chairman, claims the proposal would simply be the government stepping away from micromanaging the internet. The plan would also require the internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so consumers can purchase exactly the services they want. Companies like Comcast are also stating that they have no intentions of limiting access to specific websites, but without the regulations, there would be no laws preventing them from doing so.
On the other hand, internet companies like Facebook and Google are expected to lobby hard against this in Washington and in the public. Michael Beckerman, chief executive of the Internet Association, a lobbying group that represents Google, Amazon, Facebook, and others, said that the plan would defy the will of millions of Americans, who want access to the internet, unrestricted.
The next few weeks will be interesting and we will see which side will come out on top.