By Samantha Bartholomew
The Federal Communications Commission released a plan Nov. 21 to dismantle regulations that ensure equal access to the internet.
This would allow internet service companies to charge users more to see certain content and to access to some websites.
The proposal, made by the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is a repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration. The rules prohibit high-speed internet service providers, or I.S.P.s, from stopping or slowing down the delivery of websites. They also prevent the companies from charging customers extra fees for high-quality streaming and other services.
The announcement set off a fight over free speech and the control of the internet, pitting telecom titans like AT&T and Verizon against internet giants like Google and Amazon.
The internet companies warned that rolling back the rules could make the telecom companies powerful gatekeepers to information and entertainment.
The telecom companies say that the existing rules prevent them from offering customers a wider selection of services at higher and lower price points.
The big companies that provide internet access to phones and computers have fought for years against broadband regulations. Under the new plan, broadband providers will be able to block access, slow down or speed up service for its business partners in some cases — as long as they notify customers.
The decision has also sparked controversy due to the fact that over a third of the nearly 22 million comments that poured into the FCC regarding its plan to repeal net neutrality protections included one of seven identical messages. More than half were associated with duplicate or temporary emails.
Dozens included references to the animated film Bee Movie, a film about a disillusioned worker bee that has become fodder for several popular memes. Roughly one million comments came from Pornhub.com email addresses. And more than 7,000 comments were submitted by people named, simply, The Internet.
According to the review, only six percent of the comments were actually unique. The rest were submitted multiple times. Some of the most popular among them can be traced back to legitimate organizations that have mobilized their communities either for or against the repeal.
“The FCC is acting careless with our freedoms for no other reason than to line their own pockets,” RCC student Lindsay Manfield said. “In no way will this repeal benefit us and they know it.”
The plan could be approved by the Republican-led FCC as early as its Dec. 14 meeting.