Kamal unfairness. One regulation which was introduced in

Kamal Deol

160534950

PP247

Craig Beam

The Killing of Net Neutrality: An Ethical
Analysis

            The
World Wide Web has been publicly available for 26 years. It has been used for
many different purposes—positive and negative—by many different people—good and
bad. The internet is certainly one of the most technologically propelling
inventions known to mankind; it has been used to collect data, to provide data,
to interact, to learn, to teach, etc. Relative to the greater spectrum of
existence, the internet’s life has only just begun. Since the internet is
constantly being advanced, its governing bodies need to keep up and implement
safeguards to protect consumers from unfairness. One regulation which was
introduced in 2015 under the Obama administration is net neutrality. In short,
net neutrality regulations state that internet service providers are not
allowed to block or slow access to content on the internet and are required to
consider all of the web’s traffic equally. This past week, the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal the net neutrality regulations
which they presented in 2015. This vote was clearly unethical and goes against
the values of utilitarian ethics. Instead of concern for the greatest happiness
of the greatest number of people, the FCC has only considered the greatest happiness—or
in this case, the greatest profits—of a small percentage of the corporate realm
consisting of greedy corporations. An article by Fortune states that a survey
from the University of Maryland displayed that over 80% of Americans are
against the FCC’s retraction of net neutrality regulations. In this paper, I will argue that the
FCC’s decision to repeal the net neutrality regulations set by the Obama
administration was unethical. I will argue that this decision has given
internet service providers the green light to do whatever they want, whenever
they want and I will express that the FCC’s integrity be called into question.

I will draw on the theories of ethical responsibilities and corporate social
responsibilities. I will conclude by examining the effects of the FCC’s
decision on the future of the internet.

            With
the FCC’s vote, internet service provider’s now have the power to block or slow
access to online content; now the only rule is that they have to disclose how
they manage that content. Internet service providers have come out as the
biggest winners of this decision; they will now be able to start favoring their
own content and services over the competition. Another possible winner of this
decision are medium-sized content producers; internet service providers will
have more incentive to buy content-producing companies, consequently raising
their value. On the other hand, internet TV services such as Netflix and large
internet companies such as Google and Amazon are possible losers of this
decision; both groups may find their content blocked or slowed, or be required
to pay extra fees. In my opinion, the two biggest losers of this decision are
smaller content providers and more importantly, consumers. Small content
providers lose because they don’t have enough influence to protest any unfair
treatment while consumers lose because they are the ones suffering from the
slowed speeds of the content they wish to browse. I believe that this decision
to repeal the regulations set by the Obama administration is unethical for many
reasons. The first reason being that the decision does not seriously consider
the views of consumers. Consumers correctly believe that they should be free to
view and use any service of their choice at an equal price and speed as any
other service; however, with the absence of net neutrality, this will become a
problem. For example, in a remote area where there is only one service provider,
let’s say Comcast, that service provider is free to charge any price they want,
block any services they want, and throttle any services they want for the
consumers in that area. The consumers in this remote area have no choice but to
cooperate with Comcast’s decisions because there are no other service providers
competing with Comcast in that area. To put this into perspective, an article
by Vox states that approximately 50 million homes in the United States have just
one high-speed internet service provider in their region. This means that 50
million homes in the United States will have no choice but to cooperate with the
decisions of that one high-speed internet service provider in their region. According
to The Verge, one of the two Democrats on the FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel stated
that “this is not good; not good for consumers, not good for businesses, not
good for anyone who connects and creates online.” The Verge also stated that the
other Democrat on the FCC, Commissioner Clyburn, mentioned that the repercussions
of the FCC’s vote are “particularly damning… for marginalized groups, like
communities of color, that rely on platforms like the internet to communicate.”
The FCC’s decision is clearly unethical and immoral; it is a decision which
provokes internet service providers to do as they please. This decision has
opened the door for internet service providers to potentially generate an
internet for the elite while everyday consumers are left with subpar service
for unreasonable prices.

            The
FCC’s decision goes against both Kantian and utilitarian ethics. The FCC is in
no way fulfilling their moral principles and moral obligations, nor are they taking
into account the greater good. After this decision, it is apparent that the FCC
is flawed. The commission consists of 5 voters: 3 republicans and 2 democrats.

This in itself is unfair; the commission should consist of an equal number of
members from each party. I believe that the FCC’s integrity should be called
into question because the FCC’s handling of the public comment period was entirely
incorrect and appalling to the public. According to The Verge, both Rosenworcel
and Clyburn disapproved of the FCC’s actions by stating that the commission operated
improperly by overlooking millions of voices who were against the repeal. Commissioner
Clyburn stated that “it is abundantly clear why we see so much bad process with
this item: because the fix was already in.” She is explaining that it is
apparent that the administration simply had no concern for any public opinion.

Rosenworcel also explained that the FCC demonstrated a “cavalier disregard” in
concerns to the public and a “contempt” for citizens voicing their opinions. According
to Fortune, the FCC received approximately 23 million comments when they
invited public comments on the upcoming vote. I believe that the FCC will most
likely be hit with a lawsuit very soon because supporters of net neutrality are
very content in their continued efforts to invalidate the repeal and restore
the regulations introduced by the Obama administration.

            Thus,
the FCC’s decision has very important implications when it comes to our
economy; it will have a negative impact on businesses and consumers. It also
impacts our democracy as well because we fundamentally believe that all
information should be treated equally and people should have access to open
internet; once that is compromised, our economy and democracy will be impacted.

Open internet has allowed people
to freely download information, upload information, interact with peers, learn,
teach, consume media, etc. The FCC’s vote to repeal the net neutrality
regulations introduced by the Obama administration in 2015 was undoubtedly unprincipled
and goes against the ideals of practical ethics. In this paper, I have argued that the FCC’s decision to
repeal net neutrality regulations was unethical. I have argued that this
decision has given internet service providers the right to do what they want, when
they want and I have expressed my disbelief in the FCC’s integrity. I have drawn
on the theories of ethical obligations and corporate social responsibilities
and I have examined the effects of the FCC’s decision on the future of the
internet. I believe that the FCC has made a dishonest decision and a majority
of the general population believes so too.

 

References

1.    
Arbel,
T., & Ortutay, B. (2017, December 14). FCC votes to repeal Obama-era net
neutrality regulations in 3-2 decision. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2017/12/14/fcc-expected-to-repeal-obama-era-net-neutrality-regulations.html

2.    
Coldewey,
D. (2017, December 14). The FCC officially votes to kill net neutrality.

Retrieved December 21, 2017, from https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/14/the-fcc-officially-votes-to-kill-net-neutrality/

3.    
Evans,
P. (2017, December 14). FCC votes to roll back U.S. net neutrality protections.

Retrieved December 21, 2017, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/fcc-net-neutrality-1.4448369

4.    
Kastrenakes,
J. (2017, December 14). The FCC just killed net neutrality. Retrieved December
21, 2017, from https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/14/16776154/fcc-net-neutrality-vote-results-rules-repealed

5.    
Romano,
A. (2017, December 14). Net neutrality is now officially on life support.

Retrieved December 21, 2017, from https://www.vox.com/2017/12/14/16774148/net-neutrality-repeal-explained

6.    
What
Net Neutrality Means for You and Your Time Online. (n.d.). Retrieved December
21, 2017, from http://fortune.com/2017/11/21/what-net-neutrality-means-for-you/

7.    
Scurato, C. (2017,
December 18). Who will be hit hardest by net neutrality? Marginalised America.

Retrieved December 21, 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/18/net-neutrality-marginalised-america-open-internet-fcc