Published: November 23, 2017 8:12 am
America is headed for a bitter battle over who controls the internet after the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) decides this week to âstop micromanaging the Internetâ by repealing the path-breaking net neutrality rules set in place by the Obama administration.
The 2015 rules were like the gold standard when it comes to defining net neutrality and if they are gone the impact will be global and not just limited to the US.
But what actually is net neutrality? Simply put, it is the rule that ensures all packets of data are treated the same. This means Internet service providers cannot and will not speed up or slow down any packet for any reason. Internet service providers have many reasons to hate net neutrality, from preferring one video streaming company because of common ownership to hating a messaging platform that killing its voice business. FCC chairman Ajit Paiâs latest decision makes them the gatekeepers.
However, Internet giants like Google and Amazon are unlikely to sit quiet and intense lobbying is expected to start to reinstate the rules in some form or the other. While they would want to come across as crusaders of Internet freedom, they also want to protect their business interests which could be affected by this laissez-faire approach of the FCC.
A couple of years back India was also in the middle of a heated battle over net neutrality after some service providers and Facebook tried to offer zero rated services to people who could not afford access to the web. But this raised fears about the creation of a walled garden and led to the TRAI issuing its own set of rules.
However, the FCC ruling will certainly push service providers here to also push for a similar policy as it will help them âoffer a wider variety of plans across price pointsâ.
But all that aside consumers need to be really bothered about the implications of what the FCC has done. To give just one example, service providers in the US will now have the legal sanction to throttle a Netflix and force you to pay more for accessing this data-intense service. The customer will no longer be king, the service provider will.
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