Net neutrality repeal raises concerns

Yesterday’s repeal of net-neutrality regulations by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will likely raise prices of different online content, like Netflix, Spotify or Hulu. Obama’s administration previously adopted a set of regulations aimed at preventing Internet Service Providers (ISP) from introducing preferential access to online content to consumers who pay more as well as content providers’ availability to consumers. ISP’s were required to treat all content and all subscribers equally in regards to access and availability.

The repeal opens way for ISP’s to monetize access to the Internet through creating so-called bundles of specific content to be purchased at different prices. In practice, consumers who already pay for their online subscriptions would be charged an extra cost for actually being able to access the service in question. This would have effect both ways, as content providers would also have to pay to ISP’s for broader availability and higher speeds of access.

Concerns are coming from many different sides, including some ISP’s, like Comcast, who have already stated that “fundamental tenets of net neutrality are also key components of our core network and business practices.”

Netflix and Facebook are also among major companies that have expressed their disappointment with the FCC decision. “This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/ innovators, large & small, to oppose this misguided FCC order,” Netflix published in a statement.

The scientific community has also come out strongly against the repeal, asserting it could affect scientific research that relies heavily on sharing data and access to information. Marshall Shepherd , the former president of the American Meteorological Society wrote that scientific data “could be stuck in the digital slow lane as ISPs prioritize advertising-heavy social-media messages. Or universities and students, especially those in poorer countries, could face prohibitive access and download fees.”


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