By: Levi Johnson
KNOXVILLE, TENN. - University of Tennessee Computer Science Students are expressing concern for their field after the repealing of Net Neutrality.
This past December the board of the FCC voted to repeal Obama-era restrictions on internet service providers that prevented ISPs from throttling data or providing fast lanes for any particular website or service. These restrictions have been regarded as key to maintaining healthy competition and consumer protection on the tech market, but others have seen the restrictions as overbearing regulation that is stifling innovation.
This decision was headed by Chairman of the FCC Ajit Pai who is quoted saying “This decision was a mistake. For one thing, there was no problem to solve. The Internet wasn’t broken in 2015” in reference to the Obama-era restrictions. Pai’s “plan to restore internet freedom” is based in the idea that less regulation means more competition, and therefore more innovation and better service from our Internet Service Providers.
Some students are worried about how this change may affect startup tech companies, since they may not be able to pay for fast enough connections to compete with large, established companies. University of Tennessee Senior Savannah Norem says, “Internet Providers saying ‘You can go to these websites a lot faster’ means that potentially these start-ups can’t pay to have their websites on these lists so no one ever sees their websites.”
Norem also stated that the people who will be affected the most by this change will be online content creators since their platforms will have more vicious competition from more established companies. UT Phd. Student Jared Smith is also concerned about this. He says, “If your provider decides to limit say Youtube versus Netflix, and you can’t get access to Youtube, that is where a lot of content and training is these days for people to learn software development.”
Students are hopeful for the future of Net Neutrality though. Jared Smith says he is hopeful because “many people, on both sides, bipartisan, are not in support of repealing net neutrality.” Students think that the negative aspects of repealing net neutrality will be too much to let it stand as it is now. UT Sophomore Duncan Layman says, “I think having open internet is too much, too central to small companies and to companies around the U.S. that it would be too detrimental in the short term.”
Democrats may try to fight against the decision of the board with congressional review, but that may be difficult with the Republican controlled Congress, but for now the future of net neutrality is unknown.