May 16, 2017

The fight for net neutrality

Is a free and open internet under threat in the United States?

Battle lines are being drawn in the war over net neutrality in the United States as the Federal Communications Commission is set to vote on May 18 on whether or not to roll back Obama-era policies. Critics claim current regulations wrongfully insert the government into the internet economy. But proponents believe the rules are necessary to ensure internet service providers treat all web traffic equally and fairly.

In an effort to protect net neutrality, the Obama administration expanded the FCC's authority and internet service providers were classified as utilities, like telephone companies. That means they have to abide by fairness rules.

But, now, there's a new administration and a new chief of the FCC.

Ajit Pai, who took over the agency in January, has said he believes in a free and open internet but that the current rules have stifled innovation and growth. Those in favour of the Obama-era regulations say the opposite.

So who's right? Decide for yourself when both sides of the debate join The Stream to make the case for or against net neutrality.

Joining The Stream:

Gigi Sohn @gigibsohn
Open Society Foundations fellow, ex-counselor to FCC Chairman

Evan Swarztrauber @SayreEvan
Director of Public Affairs, TechFreedom

Josh Steimle @joshsteimle

Raman Chima @tame_wildcard
Co-founder, Internet Freedom Foundation

Critics of net neutrality believe government involvement stifles tech innovation and growth. Do you agree? Tell us why or why not in the comments section below.