Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Net Providers Threaten Internet Access

If you’re going to hit college students where it hurts, take away their Netflix.

Verizon and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may be doing just that.

In an important court case on last month, Verizon challenged the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rules surrounding net neutrality. Essentially, this means that private Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon could be free to make deals with sites like Netflix and Amazon, allowing those providers to charge customers to view the fast, streamlined content.

Open Internet access as we know it would not be the same.

Seattle University freshman Madison Grimsby believes the conversation around net neutrality isn’t fair to consumers. According to her, the FCC’s role is to provide regulation for a free Internet.

“It would be unjust to manage Internet connection for profit,” she said.

The FCC has tried to rebuff this court ruling by saying that, through this deregulation, private companies could gain an edge in attracting customers, while at the same time pushing others off of certain sites. The FCC reports that this could result in increased rates charged for certain Internet usage, or Internet speed.

Supporters of net neutrality are outraged.

“The effects of this ruling can’t be overstated. It quite literally gives Internet Service Providers (ISPs) the authority to impair or improve your access to a website depending on how it benefits them,” wrote Gaurav Seetharam for USA Today.

The ruling came about through a loophole that developed during the change from dial-up to broadband.

When the Internet first came into the public eye in 1996, it fell under FCC regulation, given that it fell under the realm of telecommunication. Remember how the Internet wouldn’t work when someone was on the phone? Because phones and the Internet were using the same platform, the FCC had regulation powers.

However, when dialup came about in response to complaints about Internet usage there was a change. Suddenly, the Internet fell under the title of a, “single, integrated information service.”

Because the Internet is not considered a utility by law, ISPs now have the freedom to legally explore commercial contracts concerning Internet usage and freedom. The loophole essentially left the Internet open as fair game.

“It leaves consumers at the mercy of a handful of cable and phone providers that can give preferential treatment to the content they profit from,” said Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union in an interview with The New York Times.

Despite all this negative attention, Verizon and other ISPs have remained publicly committed to the idea of net neutrality.

“Verizon has been and remains committed to the open Internet, which provides consumers with competitive choices and unblocked access to lawful websites and content when, where and how they want,” Verizon said in a statement. “This will not change in light of the court’s decision.”

Seattle U professor Chris Paul discussed his feelings and fears regarding the net neutrality debate.
“What worries me are companies like Comcast, which recently merged with NBC, who have hands on both sides of the wheel,” he said. “While it’s true that ISPs have always been meddling with Internet connection, the conflict of interest comes when you have a company that can profit from speeding up a connection to a site, while simultaneously making it more difficult to access another.”

Back in late January, President Obama spoke out in favor of net neutrality.

“If the old systems and rulings that they had in place were not effective in preserving net neutrality, do they have other tools that would stand up to court scrutiny that accomplishes the same goals?” Obama said.

Such a tool could be what is called a “common carriage” policy which is only a little different than the previous policy of the FCC. Essentially, common carriage policy states that the public have equal and unspoiled access to fundamental services such as the Internet.

Paul is in favor of this new policy which would mean altering the current and rather dated policies to fit more ably into one more resembling common carriage, he said.

The FCC can maintain an open Internet, if the way in which it is regulated is reclassified.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor

Comments (0)

All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *