By Admin, 2 years ago | Campers
When anyone lists down the global phenomena that most shaped the world in the 21st century, the internet has to be up there. It is used by approximately five billion people according to Internet World Stats – a statistics research firm based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For the sake of comparison, that figure is approximately two-thirds of the number of all the people living on the crust of this planet! Want to know something even more shocking about the internet? Strategy Analytics – a leading market research firm based out of Newton MA – predicts that 35 billion devices will be connected to the global network by the end of the first quarter of the 21st century. Putting things into perspective, that is more than a hundred times higher than the total population of this country!
When something influences the human race so much, it is bound to be talked about a lot. While some have discourses about the foundations of the internet, others like to discuss the impact certain aspects of the internet age are having on people. One aspect that is frequently discussed is the lack of net neutrality or the lack thereof. This is due to the fact that the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations all had different views of the issue. In general, Democratic administrations have been in favor of net neutrality while Republican administrations have been leaning against enforcing it. In this article, we will be discussing how the recent changes in net neutrality rules in the United States have affected the world as a whole in the internet age. But before everything, we need to define what net neutrality is.
Net neutrality exists when all internet service providers charge the same fee for different types of content or platform. Streaming on Netflix will cost you the same amount as streaming on YouTube. Sometimes, even though internet service providers charge you the same amount for varying platforms, they lower the speed when you are using certain platforms. This intentional reduction in speed by internet service providers is also called net neutrality. Although the term had been coined since the early 2000s, net neutrality started being a part of legislation under the Obama administration with the introduction of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009. The Federal Communications Commission is responsible for deciding on and enforcing net neutrality.
While the 44th president, Barack Hussain Obama, had been against net neutrality, the 45th president, Donald John Trump, was not so enthusiastic about it. This is why the Federal Communications Commission has reversed its stance on net neutrality since 2017 when Trump came into office. You may ask why the President has so much control over how net neutrality is enforced. Well, the answer is simple: the President decides who will head the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Communication Commission then decides whether net neutrality will be enforced. Things can change and net neutrality can be permanently enforced but only if the law mandates it. Although there have been efforts to pass these kinds of laws by Democrats in Congress, none of them have been successful. Moreover, Joseph Robinette Biden, the 46th and current President of the United States, has not changed much when it comes to net neutrality as fiercely different stances of Republicans and Democrats resulted in a stalemate throughout 2021. As a consequence, net neutrality is not being enforced currently in the United States.
The current situation is not at all pleasant. The internet service providers take full advantage of the fact that they can charge people any rate for any service once they have been able to get the customer subscribed. In cases where they do not charge different rates, they often vary the speed from platform to platform. In fact, in some cases, internet service providers have told certain streaming services that the bandwidth provided to their viewers will remain low until the streaming platforms pay the internet providers money. Bear in mind that not all providers are like that. Subscribers of Xfinity Internet plans, for example, often say that they have experienced no negative impact since net neutrality stopped being enforced.
In the internet age of today, the availability of the internet or the lack thereof can hugely affect the opportunities open to people. A matter this important should surely not be left in the hands of internet service providers that are out there to make a profit. Some people argue that the internet is a basic human right and the state should make sure that everyone in the country gets access to the highest speeds. Although for logistical reasons, we are not going that far today, we will say that, at the very least, net neutrality should be enforced.