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I'm sure that most of you reading this have heard of the battle that has continued for years now over Net Neutrality. While the FCC hearing on February 26th struck a major blow for those in favor of a neutral practice, we still see the fighting and bickering that accompanied any altercation before the hearing. The ruling that was established by the FCC dictated that Telecommunications companies would change from Title I (Information Service) to that of Title II (Common Carrier).
This was partially due to a court case in which the FCC was forced to admit that it did not have the proper authority to back its rulings. The other reason was due to the fact that the telecommunications companies needed better regulation, and Title I was too restrictive on their commerce.
Needless to say, several telecommunications companies threw some big fits on the matter. Some have directly challenged the FCC and demanded the decision be remanded by a higher court. Others have sought to have different procedures blocked in order to undermine certain portions of control by the FCC without nullifying or challenging the rules themselves.
The new rules that are being put in place will not hit the table until June 12th, a little more than five weeks away. We will undoubtedly see more of these attempts to circumvent or completely deny the new rules before they are enacted, but the success of this is to be determined.
One company that is receiving new fire on this topic is actually that of Facebook and their Internet.org campaign. If you have not looked into it yet, it is an interesting plan that seeks to start moving the internet into areas that are less developed and lacking the connection to the net that more developed places have.
The proposal, at first, was directed at allowing connection to those places for a smaller fee than you would find elsewhere but also limiting the content that you would be able to see. Enabled areas included some job finding websites, local weather/news, and, of course, Facebook and its accompanying messenger.
The fire they received accused Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, of having a plan that would shut out competition and give an unfair advantage to Facebook in those areas. Zuckerberg's response: To open up the Internet.org to any developer wishing to release an App in the project. So long as those apps meet certain guidelines, most being regulated by local governments and laws, they are free to be included on the Internet.org as well.
An estimated 4 billion of the world's population still have no access to the internet. While giants wage domestic warfare over what they can and cannot do in the areas that they have control, there are many people that still do not have a clue that these fights are even happening.
While these fights are important due to the regulations that have to be monitored, should we be focusing more on expanding the internet or ensuring the regulations over it are adequate? This is a hard question to answer. One is at home while the other is in places that a lot of us have never been. Never being in a place can make it that much harder to extend yourself out and have empathy for the people that are not aware of what they are missing.
Some people feel that there is no need to try and remove walls between those without access and the access they need. That those people have been living fine without it, so why should that change now? This is similar to saying that we were living fine without modern medicine and doctors, so why should any go to those places lacking them. It is not because they will die without it. The fact is that we are humans, and the ability to communicate and reach out is something we should all have a right to, regardless of law or location.
Written by Gavin Bluthe / May 5, 2015