F.C.C. Ruling on Net Neutrality

Sarah Schrup

In late February 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C) voted to force broadband internet to be considered a public utility. This vote served as a leap towards providing high-speed internet connections to all Americans. According to the New York Times article “F.C.C. Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Classifying Broadband Internet Service as a Utility” by Rebecca R.  Ruiz, the new regulations support the concept of “net neutrality”, compelling distributors to provide the same speed internet no matter the buyer’s ability to pay.

While the regulations will not go into effect for at least a month from now, this vote has once again brought to the surface a debate about the nature of the internet. By classifying the internet as a utility, the F.C.C. classified access to equal internet as a privilege granted to everyone. The argument is based on the nature of internet: a crucial tool for entire societies and a source for profit for businesses.

According to the article, President Obama showed his support for the F.C.C.’s ruling, stating: “For most Americans, the internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and everyday life.” Since its inception, the internet has been a growing source of communication and connection for Americans and people throughout the world. Now, in our technology-based world, the internet is capable of shifting elections, providing people with an almost endless source of information, connecting people with anyone in the world through seven or less Facebook friends, and so much more. With the F.C.C.’s new ruling, broadband Internet is now a “utility, life electricity, once again confirming how central it has become in American lives.

As with all things in Washington, the ruling will not take effect without controversy. While the 3-to-2 Democratic majority on the F.C.C. allowed the regulation to pass, there was, and still is, considerable Republican opposition. Disapproval was voiced by Verizon, a huge broadband provider, and others in the industry. On the other hand, huge public support, voiced predictably through the internet, can be sighted as one of the main causes for the F.C.C.’s interest in this issue. Overall, the debate over net neutrality will likely continue as the government and the industry work on how to distribute the Internet fairly.