Barrack Obama has called on US regulators to impose ‘the strongest possible rules’ to protect net neutrality. The American president has stated that an open, neutral internet is key to innovation and free thought in the modern era and that the FCC needs to legislate to protect it against being stifled by companies. However his opponents have argued that having an unregulated internet where prioritised content is available is key to innovation and the FCC legislation itself would stifle freedom on the internet. With these identical arguments coming from both sides of the debate, one might be forgiven for wondering what is actually at stake here.
Net neutrality is the idea that all content on the internet is equal. The main idea is that service providers and telecommunications companies have no right to pick out preferred sites or services and transfer data from them to users or customers faster than they might do for other sites. This is the way that the internet has traditionally worked since its creation. It is seen by its supporters as an important way of providing a flat playing field for businesses, innovators and political thinkers. However, those who oppose net neutrality believe that the idea limits the power of service providers and telecommunications companies too much, cutting into their earning potential. Both of these viewpoints have truth to them: Net neutrality has been proven to create an unprecedented flat playing field where communications are concerned, however flat playing fields always limit the advantages and earning potential of big business.
These are the facts behind the arguments.