From the editor: We may need Congress for net neutrality

Net Neutrality A bill introduced in the Iowa House could bring Net Neutrality laws to Iowa. Illustration by Nathan T Wright

The internet is in the news this week.

On Thursday, Dec. 14 the Federal Communications Commission will vote to repeal the net neutrality rules that were put in place in 2015. Net Neutrality (or the open internet rules) is the principle that Internet providers should make all content available at the same speed. The rules bar ISP’s from blocking, slowing or providing preferential treatment to specific content.

And with three of the five FCC commissioners opposing the net neutrality rules, the Business Insider says the vote isn’t in any doubt.

“This week, the Federal Communications Commission will drive a stake in net neutrality,” writer Steve Kovach says.

Defendants worry that decision could reshape the internet by giving a powerful group of telecommunications companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon a great deal of control over what we see and do online.

Both sides of the argument

The internet did work before the Democratic-controlled FCC passed the net neutrality regulation in 2015. And the Washington Post says after repealing the regulations, internet providers understand that it is in their own interests to maintain a level playing field.

But the—long—list of defenders say it’s bad for consumers, free speech could suffer and encourage consolidation.

Richard Dedor is a candidate for Iowa House District 19 and a follower of the net neutrality issue.

He wants the internet to remain free but says it’s clear how the FCC is going to vote.

“It’s one of those things where we have such a beautiful thing in the internet that I think we take for granted,” Dedor says. “I don’t want us to let that slip away but I fear that’s what would happen.”

Dedor called this a “National” issue and that it should be debated at the Federal level.

“The longer we can keep the internet free and open, the better it’s going to be for everybody,” Dedor says. “That becomes exponentially more difficult if the ISP’s are able to create tiers or fast lanes for content providers.”

Iowa City voices its opinion

During a May 7 episode of “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver introduced (which has since been shut down) as a movement to support net neutrality. It directed users to the FCC website where they could leave comments urging the FCC chairman to uphold net neutrality.

More than a million comments were left on the FCC website.

The Iowa City Telecommunications Commission submitted a letter to the FCC with support from the City Council saying Iowans who rely on the open internet are poised to suffer from the rollback.

It asks for a legislative solution and that the current rules stay in place to protect consumers.

The letter closes with:

“Please keep the internet open and free.”

Net Neutrality
A a poster from Carlisle High School on net neutrality. Photo courtesy of DeShawn Garrett.

From the classroom

During a Web Publishing class at Carlisle High School, Kacey Flaws had her students do a current events activity on net neutrality.

She said after students were introduced to both sides of the argument, “There was overwhelming support for net neutrality.”

” I was sort of surprised to find that most of the students hadn’t heard much about net neutrality and didn’t know what it was,” Flaws said. “Only about a quarter of the kids in class said they had a slight idea of what it meant.

“After reading about and discussing with their classmates, most kids were shocked it is even something to debate.”