FCC Chariman Ajit Pai has signaled he will attempt to deregulate the Internet by loosening restrictions on Internet service providers through his proposal “Restoring Internet Freedom.”
Many web companies including Google, Netflix, and Facebook oppose such proposals, arguing that ending tighter restrictions will give Internet service providers the ability to discriminate web traffic.
With such a complex, national issue, it can be difficult to understand how changing these rules will impact every day Internet users.
This week on Noon Edition, join us as our guests discuss the history of internet regulation, how national internet policy impacts individual Internet use, and what can be done about it.
IU Media School Assistant Professor Julien Mailland noted that media companies have a massive stake in open Internet policy if government regulations are rolled back.
“Companies that provide content and services over the internet are massively in favor of net neutrality. Google, for example, has been a pretty clear advocate of it,” Mailland says. “And the reason is because their access to us as users is mediated by these large cable companies.”
The Center for International Media Law and Policy Studies Director Anthony L. Fargo pointed to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as an example of corporations abusing deregulation in the telecommunications industry.
The act required FCC to eliminate most of its ownership regulations on commercial radio and television stations under the assumption that they would operate well under the free market.
“And what we saw almost immediately when the ink was dry on that bill was we had several companies swoop in and buy as many radio stations as they could and began eliminating local staff and local DJ’s,” Fargo explains. “So who got the freedom out of that? Was it the listener and the viewer? Or was in the companies that were able to be free to buy a whole lot of companies and lay off a lot of people?”
IU Media School Senior Lecturer Matt Pierce says because the Internet is being treated as a commodity, there is greater on Internet service providers to increase their revenue. He says some Internet service providers, like Verizon, are beginning to develop their own content.
“The dynamics of the market are pushing these companies to constantly look for ways to increase revenues to keep the shareholders happy,” Pierce says. “They would like to get this rule out of here so they can explore those other business models.”