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2015 to see further debate over net neutrality

CW | Belle Newby

Ben Jackson

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“Net neutrality, the ability for the Internet to remain open and equal for all users, is essential for our generation to fight for,” said Luke Zahorik, a freshman majoring in computer science with an interest in cyber security. “Without it, the Internet as we know it runs the risk of becoming essentially censored.”

The current regulations being mulled over in Washington would prevent certain Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, from having the ability to charge different premiums for different qualities of bandwidth. For example, because Netflix dominates a large amount of Internet data usage, a provider like Comcast could charge more for Netflix to remain available at high speeds. Net neutrality argues that the Internet is a public good and should be kept available as such.

Advocates for these regulations, like President Barack Obama and a host of bipartisan congresspeople, argue these higher costs could push certain competitors out of the market and drive up prices for consumers.

CJ Guttormsson, a sophomore majoring in computer science, compared not enforcing net neutrality to “a highway system where any road can arbitrarily be made into a toll road, with no oversight and no limits.”

While voters overwhelmingly support net neutrality, with as many as 81 percent of University of Delaware poll respondents saying they oppose “Internet fast lanes,” the issue is far from settled.

One of net neutrality’s biggest critics remains billionaire entrepreneur 
Mark Cuban.

“Things have worked well,” said Cuban in an interview with The Washington Post on Monday. “There is no better platform in the world to start a new business than the Internet in the United States. The greater risk comes from 
new rule-making.”

Cuban and his supporters believe net neutrality regulations effectively stifle innovation. Cuban said he believes fast lanes and selectively faster Internet will be necessary for advanced communication systems like those required for healthcare, for example.

However, the FCC ruling could have far wider implications than speed or how much users pay for internet services.

“If net neutrality isn’t supported, it’s not just bad for startups and small businesses,” said Matthew Leeds, a sophomore majoring in computer science who follows the net neutrality debate closely. “The Internet is a very important tool for free speech, and a few ISPs have monopolized the market. If those corporations are allowed to decide whose traffic gets priority, they could potentially restrict traffic from any site whose content they disagree with, effectively centralizing a form of censorship.”

Those interested in the debate can voice their opinion at fcc.gov/comments.

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2015 to see further debate over net neutrality