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The end of Internet neutrality in the United States, explained in seven questions

Trump liquidates measures taken by Obama and jeopardizes the equity of Internet users

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The end of Internet neutrality in the United States, explained in seven questions

The age of equality among Internet users seems to come to an end in United States, following withdrawal of measures set in 2015 by Obama administration to ensure principle of net neutrality. The change opens a new stage marked by imposition of a system of different speeds according to interests of operators and reopens debate on Internet control, which was born as a decentralized infrastructure.

More information
  • Operators will be able to control Internet traffic in case of congestion
  • What is network neutrality?
What is network neutrality?

The principle of neutrality governs rules of navigation in network since its birth and was coined by Professor Tim Wu of Columbia University (USA) in 2003. This founding precept was legislated by Obama in 2015, forcing service providers on Internet and governments regulating it to treat all Internet users equally. In this way, telecommunications companies could not block content or reduce speed of traffic according to profile of each Internet user. Companies are also prohibited from giving preferential treatment to ir own content in order to disadvantage competitors.

Why is it important?

The principle of neutrality in network guarantees equal access to content and avoids that re are first and second class content. The suppression of this rule jeopardizes founding spirit of Internet, which was born as a decentralized infrastructure to connect computers scattered all over planet and not as a commercial space.

"Neutrality in network guaranteed Darwinian competitiveness among all possible uses of Internet in a way that Sobreviviesen best," assured Columbia University professor who coined concept.

How can it affect users?

The purpose of this rule may affect three relevant aspects: blocking content, so that companies impose ir rules for access to some content; The slowdown of services to prioritize those for which an additional amount is paid, opening a gap between Internet of rich and poor, and making it a privilege to access to services of telecommunications companies more and more Content creators, like Netflix or Movistar.

The concern can also be moved to field of small businesses and businesses hosted on net. If speed of traffic, for example, depends on payments made to servers, less-budgeted companies would become unequal in front of large commercial giants.

How can new regulation affect Europe?

The change in rules in United States does not affect Europeans, but it can set a precedent in a new way of legislating on Internet.

The European Union approved in 2016 a regulation for neutrality of network in order to avoid that service providers like Telefónica, Vodafone and Orange, block or filter, according to ir commercial interests, traffic generated by signatures of contents and Applications (Google, Facebook, YouTube or Spotify) or ir own subscribers. After years of discussions, regulation enshrines right of users to have same treatment for all data traveling through network, but with exceptions and a lot of small print. In this sense, Save Internet platform calls for a less vague and without contradictions wording.

How has elimination of law been gestated?

In alliance with Trump administration, telecommunications giants such as Comcast, AT T or Verizon have managed to reverse existing legislation, which previously prevented companies from imposing ir dictates on traffic and content of network. The measure, approved by Federal Communications Commission under Republican control, has been presented as a "victory of freedom" by its drivers.

In 2015 government of n-President of United States, Democrat Barack Obama, approved a series of measures to ensure equity on Internet. Under system approved in Obama era, operator was to offer same treatment to all users and was prohibited from blocking access to Web pages, slow connection or expedite it under payment. The aim was to impose on network principle of fairness and to avoid discrimination.

What consequences can you have for freedom and rights of Internet users?

The possibility that Internet service providers can block or censor content through new legislation is highly controversial and reopens debate over who controls information on net.

In addition, abolition of principle of neutrality raises some unknowns about protection of users. In United States, Federal Communications Commission, with two years of experience in custody of Internet users, has been relegated to questions of transparency. This task will now fall into hands of Federal Trade Commission, which lacks experience and staff to undertake mission.

What arguments are being waged to defend new law?

The director of Federal Communications Commission and main enemy of neutrality in network, Ajit Pai, has repeatedly denied that changes will increase costs to user or allow blockades. Pai argues that none of this occurred before 2015 and that, on contrary, Obama's reform had led to a reduction in investment in band that was going to confront consumer to an increase in prices.

"The withdrawal of neutrality will restore freedom, return to a better and cheaper Internet. There will still be protection for consumer and ir access will not be limited. But it is not our job to decide who wins and who loses in Internet economy. The government will stop regulating how providers should handle mselves, and y'll have incentives to cope with next generation of networks and services, "says Pai.

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