Thursday, 13 July 2017 11:29

Protest against move to get rid of net neutrality law

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Companies and non-profits in the US have united to protest against the move by the Federal Communications Commission to get rid of the rules that govern net neutrality.

The rules were put in place by the Obama administration in 2015 to ensure that everyone had the same access to material on the net and to avoid a situation where companies could regulate net access, based on how much a consumer paid.

But the Trump administration's FCC chairman Ajit Pai has moved to get rid of the agency's commitment to protect net neutrality.

Concern over the move to get rid of the net neutrality rules is not limited to the US; Queensland University of Technology law professor Matthew Rimmer said that "network neutrality started out as a philosophical concept developed by Professor Timothy Wu from Columbia University to address discrimination by broadband service providers".

“It was designed to preserve a free and open Internet by preventing broadband providers from blocking, throttling or slowing Internet services. Rather hesitantly, President Barack Obama’s administration institutionalised principles of network neutrality.”

Prof Rimmer said there were many benefits of network neutrality, including promotion of consumer rights, innovation, competition, and freedom of expression.

“Network neutrality ensures consumer rights are not undermined by Internet service providers and that they do not suffer a dystopia of slow lanes and fast-paid lanes on the Internet,” he said.

“Network neutrality helps ensure the Internet is a free and open platform, which supports innovation. In particular, it ensures that start-up companies and new market entrants have an equal playing field. Without such protections, ISPs could use their role as gatekeepers to reinforce their monopolies."

He said Australia was yet to have any kind of discussion on network neutrality and while it would be of benefit to the country if it introduced the principle while media laws were being updated.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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