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NET NEUTRALITY

Contribution quality will be assessed by the extent to which the commentary is thoughtful, engaged with others, illustrative of creative thought, draws upon lecture materials, and integrates media content, first person experiences or current events information into the answers.

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DISCUSSION TOPIC:  NET NEUTRALITY

Background information and links

As discussed in lecture, the internet was originally conceptualized and developed according to the principle of net neutrality.  That is:  all companies, organizations or individuals who want to distribute content to audiences through the web have equal access and ability to do so.  The internet does not discriminate. Many say that this is what made the internet such a wonderful place of innovation.  This is how small, lesser known entities were able to create successful websites and businesses (and compete with larger, older companies).  But in 2013-2014, things were getting a little big bonkers.  The big moment, as discussed in lecture, came in February 2014 when it was announced that Netflix (the streaming movie service) was going to pay Comcast Cable Corporation extra money to get quicker download speeds to their subscribers.  In other words, Netflix would pay Comcast more for speed and quality.  The Federal Communications Commision (at the time) issued a ruling a few weeks later that claimed that this “pay for play” deal did NOT violate the principle of net neutrality, since Comcast wasn’t prohibiting Netflix from delivering its content, but rather was merely asking for more money to deliver its content faster.  So, the FCC said the deal was OK. Critics argued that the trouble with all this was that these cable companies (Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner) OWN the mode of distribution (as discussed in lecture).  They OWN the pipeline, so if they choose to require content producers to pay extra for access to the pipeline, the democratic underpinning of the internet (embodied in Net Neutrality) falls apart.  Comedian John Oliver did a marvelous bit about this on HBO in summer 2015.  Take 15 minutes to watch Oliver’s video WATCH/READ John Oliver comedy video HERE (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

Things changed dramatically with a historical ruling made by the FCC on February 26th, 2015.  In a surprising turn of events… FCC Chair, Thomas Wheeler, announced that FCC’s official ruling was to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality, reclassifying broadband internet as a public utility that would be subject to more regulation by the government.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/technology/net-neutrality-fcc-vote-internet-utility.html?_r=0 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

The 2015 FCC’s stance on net neutrality was:  No blocking, No throttling, No paid prioritization:

The one dissenting voice on the FCC back in 2015 was Republican Commissioner, Ajit Pai.  His main objections to the ruling are summarized here:   http://dailycaller.com/2015/02/27/net-neutrality-arguments/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

When Trump become president, he appointed Ajit Pai as Chair of the FCC. Pai, perhaps unsurprisingly, given his 2015 comments, repealed the FCC’s Net Neutrality protections last December.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/14/technology/net-neutrality-repeal-vote.html?_r=0 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

So, NOW as of Jan 2019, Net Neutrality is NOT protected:

Here is a recent piece on the status of the Net Neutrality debate as of December 2018:

https://www.cnet.com/news/the-net-neutrality-fight-isnt-over-heres-what-you-need-to-know/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

This is all new and changing in real time, folks!

In your discussion, feel free to draw upon your own experience as a broadband subscriber, information from lecture, and other info you might have from current events/news sources.

Below I have several different prompts to get you thinking about different aspects of Net Neutrality. Feel free to contribute in response to all of them or just a few.

Discus 5 questions

1.What do you think about the FCC’s most recent ruling repealing Net Neutrality in Dec 2017?

2. Do you think the latest ruling on Net Neutrality would increase the gatekeeping powers of companies like Verizon and Comcast in a way that is unhealthy?  Why or Why not?

3. Do you think streaming services like Netflix should pay for faster speeds? After all, Netflix is a massive, bandwidth-sucking service.  Maybe they SHOULD pay.  Or, does Netflix paying for faster content delivery open the doors for all cable companies to charge content producers for use of their pipelines?

4. What did you think about Commissioner Pai’s points, critical of net neutrality?

5. What are your thoughts on John Oliver’s segment on the Net Neutrality issue?  Was his argument compelling?  Did he help clarify the issue for you? Was his construction of the issue fair?

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