You may have noticed the recent controversy surrounding internet freedom, which leaves you wondering what are the net neutrality pros and cons. A recent vote by the US Federal Communications Commission has repealed the country’s laws regarding free internet access at the federal level. This means that ISPs can have preferential treatment towards online content.
Providers of the internet can speed up, slow down and block access to specific websites.
Everything you need to know about net neutrality pros and cons
Net neutrality refers to the concept that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should not interfere with access to any content on the web. Their service should be charged fairly without discriminating any content.
They should allow you to access your email just as fast as you access your Facebook profile. However, when you factor in different volumes of data usage by individual websites, the net neutrality debate becomes more complicated. These pros and cons of net neutrality will help you decide which side you should support.
Pros of net neutrality
Generally, this concept is beneficial. The arguments for net neutrality are centered on internet freedom and fair competition. So, what is net neutrality and why is it important?
1. Gives startups a fair chance
Countries without net neutrality allow big companies to pay for higher internet speeds. This disadvantages startups that cannot afford the premium costs. New entrants to the market stand no chance against established companies that have the money to pay for more visibility on the web. This will surely kill innovation.
2. Provides a price ceiling for consumers
If ISPs implement a tiered paying system for companies to publish content, the cost will be passed on to the consumer. Free music sites, for example, would have to charge customers for access in order to pay service providers for fast internet speeds. Customers who cannot afford the fee would be locked out of the site.
3. Allows everyone to have a voice
Why is net neutrality good? Because it ensures that you can access all the information you need without any restrictions from your service provider. It prevents censorship and lets everyone express themselves freely.
Given the chance, companies would make it harder for you to get information that they find "inappropriate". They could force you to pay more to access their competitor's websites, for example. They could completely block other websites. This limits the freedom of expression which the internet was created to provide.
4. Minimizes corporate greed
Without these laws, service providers will be driven by profit to decide which content is easily accessible. They will easily create a divide; offering access to premium content to users who can afford it. At the same time, they will levy more charges on content creators who target such users.
Instead of being an avenue for unbiased and insightful information, the internet will become an expensive resource with questionable information.
Cons of net neutrality
There are also reasons why net neutrality is bad. These reasons are related to the different volumes of data use and the restriction of illegal content.
1. Services that consume a lot of data get away with it
Everything you do online consumes a different amount of data. Companies build and maintain the National Information Infrastructure to levy an extra charge when you access services that consume a lot of data.
For example, someone who streams movies at home will be charged a similar amount for specific speeds as another user who simply uses the internet to chat, read a book or perform other low consumption activities.
It is easy to see how this policy becomes a hindrance to providers; they can hardly beat the system and maximize their earnings.
2. Prevents companies from coming up with unique business models
The strict regulation enforced on service providers prevents them from experimenting with new business models. Their profits are limited to one model, with no room for innovation.
3. Lacks a moral perspective
Moral arguments against internet freedom are centered on access to illegal material. Laws advocating for fair access do not consider the nature of the content. They do not impose any restrictions on access to inappropriate material on the web. Given the chance, ISPs can successfully restrict access to illegal websites.
Is net neutrality good or bad? Repealing this law makes is to more expensive for individuals to exercise their internet freedom. On the other hand, it might encourage innovation among ISPs and enable the restriction of illegal websites. Now that you know the net neutrality pros and cons, it is up to you to pick a side.