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Net Neutrality debate goes deeper than social media

The Federal Communications Commission’s Dec. 14 decision to repeal Net Neutrality was the shot heard ‘round the social media world. Efforts to overturn the ruling have been springing up across the United States since the start of the new year, both online and in the government.

Fast food giant Burger King brought the Net Neutrality debate back to the forefront with a video explaining the issue using Whoppers.

In early January, Democratic Senator Ed Markey announced that 30 other senators signed his appeal to nullify the FCC’s decision. More recently, Governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order to protect Net Neutrality in Montana.

Florida Southern Assistant Professor of Computer Science Dr. David Mathias described Net Neutrality as the concept that the internet should be trafficked without regard to where it’s going or where it’s coming from.

“Fundamentally, the internet should just work that way,” Mathias said.

Mathias credited the decision to repeal Net Neutrality in part to “big business.” He said companies saw the potential to both make a profit and to create change.

He also described the way the repeal benefits companies that are both internet service providers and content providers, such as Comcast.

“Will they favor their content over something coming from, say, Netflix, which they don’t own?” Mathias said.

Associate Professor of Digital Media William Allen acknowledged the potential consumer benefits of the Net Neutrality repeal.

“I tend not to be in favor of fixed systems, because of the monopolization they have, like Comcast, or the lack for me as a consumer to have a choice based on fixed systems because they have a monopoly on the right of ways to run their cable,” Allen said.

Mathias compared the change in the business script to the way other industries run. He described the way Microsoft has been penalized in the past for favoring its own browser over others.

“People see that as an unfair way of doing business,” Mathias said. “Without Net Neutrality, there’s no guarantee that Comcast would or wouldn’t do that.”

Many Americans raised their voices in opposition following the FCC’s decision to repeal.

“This should’ve been basically a civil rights and scientific/technical decision, not a business decision,” Mathias said.

Allen, however, favors the side in opposition to the main messaging that he saw.

“It drove me to read the original document that was put in place by the previous administration,” Allen said. “In that document, you’re going to hear from all the FCC members, but then you also have dissenting opinions by FCC members.”

Students seeking to find out more about Net Neutrality can access the original document online. Those who desire to join the efforts to overturn the repeal can contact their representatives via text through ResistBot.

Related Links:

Fortune explained what Net Neutrality is and why it matters.
Internet Society outlined the importance of Net Neutrality.
Forbes compared American Net Neutrality to South Korea’s internet infrastructure.
Burger King released a video using Whoppers to explain Net Neutrality.

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