The Reality of Net Neutrality and Why You Should Care

by Vins
Published: Updated:

Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments enable access to all content regardless of the source. Ajit Pai is President Donald Trump’s pick for chairman of the FCC. A former lawyer for Verizon, Pai has been quoted as saying he is in favor of the idea of Net Neutrality but he opposes Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. “I favor a free and open internet and I oppose Title II. That’s pretty much all I can say.” As much as Pai would like a free and open internet, the things he prefers and opposes might be difficult to reconcile.

On April 3, 2017 President Trump signed legislation killing privacy rules that would have required internet service providers to get your explicit consent before they share or sell your web browsing history and other sensitive information. This is one of the first big controversial rule changes that have been implemented by the new administration, and it could mean more privacy changes will be made in the future. This new ruling can tie in to Pai’s opposition to Title II, by allowing internet service providers to share private data with advertising agencies. If internet service providers aren’t regulated, they could make deals with companies that impact competition. Since Pai’s appointment, AT&T has launched it’s own streaming service and Verizon is expected to launch it’s own this coming summer. It will be interesting to see how these streaming services perform on different internet service providers with Pai’s strong opposition against Title II.

Internet privacy is just as big of a concern now as it has been. With the amount of data companies can obtain on users now, it potentially means, for example, that employers will judge employees and job applicants on their browsing history.

Sources:

Brian Fung, “What Trump’s New FCC Chairman Thinks about Net Neutrality,” the Washington Post, February 1, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/02/01/what-trumps-new-fcc-chairman-thinks-about-net-neutrality/?utm_term=.52595961ecff

Jacob Kastrenakes, “US Senate Votes to Let Internet Providers Share Your Web Browsing History Without Permission,” the Verge, March 23, 2017, http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/23/15026666/senate-broadband-privacy-rules-congressional-review-act-fcc-vote

Alex Johnson, “Trump Signs Measure to Let ISPs Sell Your Data Without Consent,” NBC news, April 3, 2017, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-signs-measure-let-isps-sell-your-data-without-consent-n742316

Jack Moore, “Senate Republicans Voted to Let Your Internet Provider Sell Your Browser History,” GQ, March 24, 2017, http://www.gq.com/story/senate-republicans-browser-history-sale

Student Researcher: Sead Dobraca (University of Vermont)

Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)