In a Major Win for Web Users, Net Neutrality Prevails in Court (Video)
Net neutrality has been a focal point in many recent headlines relating to the worlds of public life, the internet, and access to technology. Though not as commonly referred to as issues like global warming or gun control, the implications of net neutrality are nonetheless vast and affect anyone with an internet connection, and even those without. In short, the term refers to the notion that high-speed internet should not be treated as a luxury like cable T.V., but rather a tool necessary for much of life in today’s world, like running water. Over the last several years, there’s been a schism delineating schools of thought from one other, with proponents of net neutrality arguing that giving all people access to the same options when it comes to internet speeds is akin to giving them access to electricity. Others feel there’s room for businesses to charge different rates for internet speeds, effectively creating a marketplace where today there is none. In a historic ruling today, it looks like the tides are turning in favor of net neutrality, but the fight is far from won.
In news announced by the New York Times yesterday (June 14), it was reported that “[h]igh-speed internet service can be defined as a utility, a federal court has ruled, in a sweeping decision clearing the way for more rigorous policing of broadband providers and greater protections for web users.” The court’s decision effectively protects consumers from harmful behavior by internet broadcast companies, including “blocking or slowing the delivery of internet content to consumers.” This week’s history-making ruling is the culmination of a legal battle that first began back in 2015, when the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) protected net neutrality by classifying broadband internet as a what’s called a “common carrier” rather than a product which could be separated into slow and fast “lanes.” Shortly thereafter, “cable, telecom and wireless internet providers sued to overturn regulations that they said went far beyond the F.C.C.’s authority and would hurt their businesses,” and thus the battle lines were drawn.
The federal court judges who voted to uphold the F.C.C.’s position wrote in their decision “[o]ver the past two decades, this content has transformed nearly every aspect of our lives, from profound actions like choosing a leader, building a career, and falling in love to more quotidian ones like hailing a cab and watching a movie,” speaking to the internet’s integral place in American society. But as the saying goes, it ain’t over ’til it’s over, and companies including AT&T have made a public vow to appeal the decision.
As stated in the informational video component to the article, the purpose of net neutrality is to “ensure an open and equal internet for all content.” Without it, users would have to pay more to access high-data content like Netflix and streaming video.
For today, at the very least, it looks like Megacorps: 0, the People: 1.