Local response to FCC's plan to repeal net neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission plans to get rid of net neutrality rules.

Posted: Nov 22, 2017 6:29 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Not many people truly understand internet neutrality.


"It's a complex issue that I think has unfortunately been demagogued to a certain degree," said State Sen. Brandt Hershman.

Computer Keyboard

Both sides of the net neutrality argument feel that way.

"If people have heard about it, some of it depends on who they've heard about it from," said Purdue Computer Science Professor Gene Spafford.

Net Neutrality rules were put into place in 2015 to ensure internet service providers treat all online content equally to prevent them from favoring their own digital services over rivals. Now, the FCC plans to repeal the rules. Hershman supports the idea.

"If one company tries to squeeze your ability to access content, you're likely to drop them and go someplace else," said Hershman. "And I think that kind of effective competition in which the consumer has choices is far better in the marketplace than government regulation."

But Spafford said when it comes to internet service providers, we don't have many choices, and the ones we do have, we can't trust.

"These are not organizations that are acting on the public's behalf, they're acting to make a profit," said Spafford. "And they're going to adopt whatever mechanisms allow them to do that."

"I think that is extremely unlikely," said Hershman. "When we deregulated telecommunications in Indiana there was an assertion that there would be some favoritism like this that would occur and it didn't and it hasn't and the reason is because there is vibrant competition in the marketplace."

Spafford thinks that's like comparing apples to oranges.

"For the telephone, it's not a case where if I pick up the receiver I have to endure a 30-minute commercial. Or if I dial some numbers to talk to somebody I get a message that says you have to subscribe to our ultra service for another 40 dollars a month," said Spafford.

That's the kind of situation Spafford thinks consumers of the internet will be in without neutrality rules. But Hershman said hypotheticals are just scare tactics.

"Because at the end of the day, these businesses want to serve consumers in a way that the consumers buy their product," said Hershman.

But Spafford said he knows how large companies work.

"It won't be all at once, it won't be all of a sudden, it will be in little bits and pieces so that the public won't be as aware of what's going on," said Spafford.

The FCC will vote on the decision next month.

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