Internet growth and innovation has flourished since the ‘90s because of its accessibility factor; anyone can go online and research, blog or download content.
Luckily, for those with online lives, The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to side with net neutrality, requiring Internet service providers to treat all legal Internet content equally, according to the Los Angeles Times. The new rules will ban providers from making content available at faster speeds in exchange for payment.
In order to bring light to a convoluted subject, California State University, Long Beach will host a forum on March 11 at 5:30 p.m. in the University Student Union Ballroom to educate students on the issue and the impact that it will have on them and the Internet as a whole.
Panelists will include Gwen Shaffer, an assistant journalism professor at CSULB; David Lazarus, a business columnist for the Los Angeles Times; Arturo Carmona, the executive director at Presente.org; and Kathay Feng, the executive director of California Common Cause.
“So many students rely on the net neutrality principle every time we use the web, stream a video or download music,” Shaffer said. “We may not notice it right away, but if Internet service providers were allowed to charge, we would definitely notice.”
The debate over net neutrality has been going on for more than a decade. The term was coined in 2003 by professor Tim Wu at Columbia Law School, according to the Washington Post. The principle of net equality on the Internet has made it possible for smaller pages like independent shops to grow without being slowed to make way for companies with more money.
“Some of us have been lucky to use the Internet for the last 25 years and that experience has been one of surfing an open network,” Timothy Karr, the senior director of strategy at nonpartisan organization Free Press, said. “This victory ensures that the next generation of users will also have that open experience. Their ideas, content and community will not be blocked slowed or discriminated because of net neutrality.”
Over four million people have shown their support over the years for an open Internet via petition signatures and appeals to the FCC, according to Free Press. Barack Obama and worldwide consumers commended the five members of the FCC after they voted 3-2 in favor of net equality, according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in an article with the LA Times.
Because of the vote, the content consumers see via the Internet won’t be throttled nor slowed because of paid-off Internet service providers, also knows as ISP’s. Essentially, a multi-million dollar company won’t receive priority over a college student’s blog just because they’re able to offer ISP’s more money.
Fourth-year economics student at CSULB, Josh Ngo, agreed with the new neutrality rules and the equality it represents.
“I think companies should get a fair chance at putting their information out there,” Ngo said. “One shouldn’t be more accessible just because they pay more.”
Despite the overwhelming support, neutrality has faced some opposition from ISP’s and other anti-net neutrality groups. Those opposed to neutrality argue that the adoption of the new regulation conflicts with running a free market, impeding both growth and investment.
“Net neutrality is potentially interfering with the pricing mechanism to allocate resources,” CSULB economics professor Jennifer Bailey said. “A price determines how much someone values a good; if someone is willing to pay a higher price, then they should get more because they value it.”
Broadband and telecommunications companies like Verizon started showing their disapproval for neutrality in Dec. 2010 when they battled against lenient FCC guidelines. The wireless company argued to constrict the regulations to wired services and won, according to the LA Times.
“We want students to be engaged in this conversation,” Shaffer said. “If they believe in it then they should weigh in on it.”