An organization of young Americans is excited to see the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman planning to undo the Obama administration’s “Net Neutrality.”
For many years, the Internet was allowed to develop without huge government regulation. This changed in 2015, when the Obama-era FCC decided that government should regulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as a common carrier through what's called Title II of the Communications Act – a 1930s-era law created to manage government monopolies, such as the phone company.
David Barnes of Generation Opportunity says that this outdated law is not meant to govern 21st-century networks.
"Ajit Pai, the current chairman of the FCC, announced last week that he's planning to undo that 2015 decision, which would then set the Internet instead to the old rules that had governed things for over 20 years and created such a successful Internet that we have today," Barnes pointed out.
Still, some individuals, think tanks and special interest groups believe there are reasons to keep Net Neutrality.
"Net Neutrality is the basic principle that prohibits Internet Service Providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use," argued one blog from Free Press. "Net Neutrality is the way that the Internet has always worked."
Generation Opportunity was quick to respond to this argument.
"We had this system from the start of the Internet – up until 2015,” Barnes asserted. “These problems did not exist. This is a solution to a problem that is not there.”
He went on to extrapolate.
“Instead of having this heavy, regulated system where government is inserting itself into ISPs, let's instead wait to see as problems happen – see how markets can correct or adjust to those problems, and once we actually see problems, then have regulators come in and start to correct," he ventured. "But let's not think that because some bad thing could happen that we need to upend the entire system of governance that has been extremely successful over the last 20 years – just because we're afraid of potential consequences."
Meanwhile, some arguments for Net Neutrality include free speech concerns.
"Free speech could suffer without a net-neutrality regulation," contended one pros and cons of Net Neutrality article by the Washington Post's Callum Borchers. "Under the repeal plan outlined by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Internet providers could block websites they don't like."
It should be noted that center-right organizations – both religious and secular – have expressed concerns about free speech if Net Neutrality remains in place. They have argued that ISPs may block websites they don't agree with, citing Net Neutrality.
Barnes does not think there is much of a free speech concern.
"If there are any speech dangers, it is having this Title II Net Neutrality regime – where the government is deciding and running effectively Internet providers," Barnes stressed.
All things considered, Barnes maintains that Net Neutrality sounds great, but in reality it is not, and that is why Generation Opportunity supports Pai's plan to undo the regulation.