The FCC voted last year to repeal net neutrality, however, the debate is resurfacing as California is proposing to keep Net Neutrality in place. The core debate around how ISPs determine the flow of content and information and, in turn, how this development impacts consumers. The trickle-down effect on consumers touches on the principle that freedom of information and content is one of America’s competitive advantages on the world stage.
It is important to consider the far-reaching implications of the repeal of net neutrality. Will ISP’s maintain a level playing field on the internet? Will the core role the internet plays as a place to freely discover information and express opinions stay in place? This remains to be seen.
Companies like Google, Twitter, AnchorFree, and others have played a big role in making information abundant, opening up equal access to information for all people on the planet. The repeal of net neutrality could enable ISPs to make some content more available than others. While there is hope that ISPs will self-police and maintain an open, fair internet experience for their customers, there are obvious conflicts that are hard to get past.
- ISPs could slow down access to entertainment sites or apps to drive more people to cable TV.
- ISPs will be able to restrict or limit communication services that they don’t like, that may be competitive, or that don’t pay them a separate fee
- News sites that have questionable content or fake news could pay internet providers to get ahead of their competitors that have more accurate, high-quality content.
- ISPs can start up-selling consumers to get in the “fast lane” for premium content that requires more bandwidth.
The repeal of net neutrality could lead to a form of censorship of information in America, which seems unfathomable in this country today. This has the potential to create a censored environment and threaten equal access to information for users in the US.
Countries that remain committed to net neutrality will have a serious advantage in online education, access to information, access to e-commerce and global markets. Their citizens can access all information and online services (such as news, online education, online healthcare, online shopping sites, etc.) without any intervention and thus will have a clear advantage over citizens in countries where information is restricted.
The current FCC sees the rollback of net neutrality as de-regulation of the Internet, but it is actually quite the opposite. It enables private companies, specifically ISPs, to regulate access to information in their own commercial interests. This not only puts consumers at a disadvantage but puts our entire country at a disadvantage.
If any of these scenarios occur, will consumers have any power to navigate the internet freely and without bias? There are some options for consumers to take their internet access into their own hands and protect their privacy so that the ISP’s will not be able to monitor their actions online and the types of content they consume. AnchorFree, is certainly ready to provide its Hotspot Shield VPN application to address the challenge of protecting user data and net neutrality from the ISP’s.
The impact on business is not to be overlooked either. The potential for technology innovation in the U.S. has never been greater. The Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are just a few of the emerging technologies that will rely on broad access to the internet. As these technologies move from conceptual to reality, we’ll see more consumer applications that will demand speed of data and processing power.
These innovations position our country as a leader and create the potential for economic growth and job creation. It is no wonder the tech industry has come together to oppose the repeal of net neutrality.
While many Companies will address the potential challenge of the repeal of Net Neutrality as a policy issue, AnchorFree, as the world’s largest Internet Privacy Platform, who’s Hotspot Shield app has 600M user downloads, plans to propose a private sector product solution that will protect Net Neutrality for all app developers, websites, and users.