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Net Neutrality faces grim future under Trump

Anthony Cardamone, Editor-In-Chief

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The internet is a major part of our lives. From gaining information, connecting with friends, staying entertained, and much more, we rely on the internet in our everyday lives. It has become an increasingly major part of who we are and how we function.

Despite this, some believe that the internet should be manipulated and restricted for the benefit of large corporations at the expense of the internet user. Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) that regulates and oversees the internet, is one of those people. He has his sights set high on damaging Net Neutrality and repealing Obama-era protections of internet freedom.

Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers (ISP) like AT&T and Comcast should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. It requires internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. Net Neutrality has been the law of land since 2015, when the Democratic-controlled FCC enacted a series of rules that guarantee equal protection for all voices on the internet.

However, now that Net Neutrality has become a partisan issue – Democrats in favor, Republicans opposed – and Republicans control the FCC, it faces a grim future under the Trump administration. Pai introduced the Commission’s plan to repeal the Net Neutrality rules, and voted along party lines to begin the process of rolling back the rules. Pai and many other Republicans argue that net neutrality is bad for ISPs, and that they should have the freedom from government regulations.

“Today’s notice is the start of a new chapter in the public discussion about how we can best maintain a free and open internet while making sure that ISPs have strong incentives to bring next-generation networks and services to all Americans,” Pai said at the commission meeting.

Democrats and advocates for a free internet alike have harshly criticized the FCC’s efforts. “By reopening the FCC’s historic 2015 Open Internet Order, the FCC is jeopardizing core protections for online free speech and competition,” former FCC chairman Michael Copps said. “Chairman Pai appears more interested in currying favor with cable and telecom industry lobbyists than in serving the millions of Americans who wrote and called to urge the commission, during the original rule-making, to provide strong protections against online blocking, throttling, or censorship.”

“FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is determined to give control of the internet to companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, no matter the cost to our economy and democracy,” says Craig Aaron, the president of the media reform group Free Press. “He’s continuing to ignore the mountains of evidence showing that the agency’s Net Neutrality rules are protecting internet users while spurring on investment and innovation.”

Whether or not the FCC efforts to repeal net neutrality succeed, internet freedom faces an interesting future that will be long debated by politicians and policy makers.

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Net Neutrality faces grim future under Trump