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Net Neutrality Repeal Causes Controversy

Shana Neto, Opinions Editor

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   On December 14, 2017, the 2015 Net Neutrality rules were repealed after a  3-2 vote, in which federal regulators decided in favor of repealing the law.

   For those who are unaware, the dictionary defines Net Neutrality as, “the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites” (dictionary.com). This means that with Net Neutrality, internet providers had to treat all websites equally within their plans.

   According to an article by the New York Times, the Net Neutrality laws prevented “blocking,” “throttling” and “paid prioritization” of websites. This meant that previously, Internet service providers (ISPs) couldn’t block any websites or apps, nor could they “slow the transmission of data based on the nature of the content, as long as it is legal.” Additionally, ISPs “…could not create an internet fast lane for companies and consumers who pay premiums, and a slow lane for those who don’t” (nytimes.com). As a result of the repeal, this is no longer the case, as internet providers now have more freedom with what they can and cannot control with respect to the services they provide to consumers.

   With the repeal, the pre-existing Net Neutrality rules were replaced with new ones; Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai ensured the public that under the new rules, ISPs must disclose to their customers any changes to their customers’ internet plans (nytimes.com).

   According to Business  Insider magazine, there is a lot of worry over how charges for using the internet will change. Little things, such as individual searches, will not be affected, nor will there be a “charge-per-use” situation. Instead, access to the internet could possibly be split into “packages” similar to paying for cable; instead of playing one flat fee for unlimited access to websites, certain sites and applications could be grouped, and consumers would have to choose which sites they want to access (businessinsider.com).

    According to the Los Angeles Times, “In theory, ISPs could charge subscribers more.” Yet, “…broadband providers have a big reason not to start adding a special ‘YouTube’ fee to your monthly bill: consumer ire, which is quick to ignite with any price hike. In fact, the new FCC sees public pressure as one of the forces that will check Internet providers from abusing the lighter regulations” (latimes.com).

   CNBC reports that 55 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans are in favor of the old Net Neutrality rules (cnbc.com). Senior Fernando Carios stated that he doesn’t think it’s fair that five people (the five members of the FCC) were the ultimate decision makers for the repeal, believing that providers may target social media sites due to the large amount of traffic they get.

   US Government Teacher Lisa Perry said, “I think we should have had a say in it.” Perry went on to say that she thinks the public’s biggest concerns weren’t about the repeal itself, but lie in the extreme lack of regulation.

  Regarding the possible slowing down of particular sites, Math Teacher John Fiorentino explained, “If it’s a website I might visit once a year, I guess I could live without quick access to it, but if it’s one I visit frequently I’d be really bothered by it.”

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Net Neutrality Repeal Causes Controversy