The year is 2034, and the net neutrality does not seem to exist. How will be the internet world? What does the future behold? How will social media, e-commerce websites search engine efficiency, and news websites look after 15 years from now? Will we come out of the online privacy hysteria?
The internet now is a major political tool and deciding whether to regulate it or not is a tough ask. The debate on free market places and government interventions in civil issues with the help of the internet is being observed.
How will it affect the United States?
There is no central committee or organization that is controlling the internet. It is now owned by no one, no one can claim it, and no authority is accountable neither there is a policy. Instead of passing a law to regulate the internet, the US authorities have decided to deregulate it and leave the internet freedom on its own.
Net neutrality is the concept of treating all users equally. Back in 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enshrined the principle of net neutrality. As per the rule, the ISPs in the US should not discriminate and charge differently based on web services that are being used.
In 2017 the FCC repeal its principles mainly because broadband infrastructure had to boost up its game. The major goal was to give the entire US faster internet speeds.
As per free markets, the competition is what is preventing ISPs from stopping the regulations. Just in case if an ISP starts not complying with the regulation, the user will switch to some other internet provider. Internet is so accessible in the US that every American now has access to two or more internet service providers. The barriers are high, and the cost is around billions to build the needed infrastructure.
It concerns that the level of control the ISP gives to its consumers is more than the internet usage. Cheap and slow packages are only limited to the small selection of websites. Similarly, it is also possible to encourage customers who are using expensive packages and give them speedy connections while imposing strict data caps and ISP throttling to the ones who are using cheap plans.
The main issue is if the ISPs get control over the consumer’s internet usage, then the net neutrality could be hampered. This repels of net neutrality can lead to the ISP to charge content providers fees and faster connections
They can also make a deal with websites by simply selling them subscription bundles, which then lead to two-tier plans. Cheap plans would have restricted access to the websites while ISPs would encourage users to buy expensive packages and throttle speeds and restrict data caps on the cheaper plans. Unsurprisingly public won’t buy this idea.
According to the poll conducted by the University of Maryland back in December 2017, 83% of the Americans did not want to approve the FCC’s to repeal net neutrality.
The large public backlash and potential outrage are what limit ISPs to try anything insidious right now. If any move like this happens then it will be political and commercial suicide.
The ISPs have a dark history of violating the internet rights of its users. Some cases like throttling of peer-to-peer sharing (torrenting) were done during 2008-2010. AT&T was also found limiting the Apple FaceTime to users who were using shared data plans. Although they were a little more expensive it is beyond our understanding what AT&T thought when limiting their data cap.
Verizon once throttled California’s fire department internet speed in 2018. The fire department was forced to pay double the settled amount to lift the restrictions. This, in other words, is a ransom from ISPs to internet users.
Although this debate is entirely for the US it possesses major repercussions for the rest of the world. Since the US sets an example for many around the globe and is a look to follow for many countries especially for developing countries, online services will also become pricier outside the US as if they come at a higher price within the territories of the US.
How will it affect Europe?
The EU has always opted for tighter regulations. As of 15th April 2019, the European Council voted to adopt the EU law on copyright in the digital market.
This directive usually requires more responsibility as the copyrighted material is often shared illegally on platforms. Article 13 of the EU law says that the full name is unwieldy, to say the least, and is the most controversial.
The law says;
Websites that generate the user-generated content should cooperate in order to restore faith, and unauthorized projected works and subjects are not included and available for their services.”
Despite this new law, there is no agreement that websites are supposed to spot their content or remove it. The situation tends to be that of most of the website owners who tend to use automated filters for potential violations.
Article 13 has also been passed to the EU law, and it now depends on the individual states and their lawmakers to enact the law and abide by it. Since different countries abide differently with the law; thus, the results are yet to be seen.
Lastly, the worst is yet to be seen as the internet as we know it is and could be very different.