The internet democratized access to all types of informationgood or bad, true or false. To date, it has been up to the user to set the priorities on what he or she receives, but this could change to make service providers the ones who determine the priorities according to their economic interests.
In 2011, the Federal Communications Commission(FCC) implemented regulations to prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from limiting user access to specific services and sites. This rule that requires ISPs to treat all online content equally without granting preference to anyone is known as “net neutrality.”
Now a U.S. Court of Appeals recently ruled that the FCC has the authority to regulate telecommunications, but, according to the judges, the internet is information, so theseregulations do not apply.
The ruling in this case went in favor of Verizon, who together with Comcast and AT&T, could now discourage user access to certain sitesthat may be some kind of competitioneither by preventing access to the site, making it slower, or charging an additional fee. ISPs say that they are going to respect access, but it is hard to forget when Comcast Corp. tried a few years ago to interfere with high-speed users’ access to file-sharing sites.
The solution is to declare the service that ISPs provide as a telecommunication service, so the FCC has jurisdiction over it, or establish internet access as a public utility, like electricity and water, for which the provider cannot regulate the supply according to its economic interests.
Internet access must remain open and independent, otherwise, ISPs could act in defense of their interests by manipulating which sites can be viewed quickly, which have long wait times, and those to which access is denied. That would be the end of the valuable internet we know today.