A renewed interest in the term “net neutrality” has recently taken place. What exactly does this term mean?
Net neutrality is a principle coined in a 2003 paper by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu. It ensures that all ISPs treat all web content equally. Simply put, this means that a consumer can load any content (streaming video, photo, website, etc.) that he or she wants. ABC News explains that “an ISP cannot charge more for sites that stream movies or promote a specific agenda.” There were no clear restrictions against interfering with net neutrality until 2015.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is suggesting removal of net neutrality from the classification (Title II classification) of a public utility. This would allow ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to charge more for access to certain websites and content or possibly create censorship.
Big names like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, YouTube and many more are in favor of net neutrality remaining in place. Of course, they do not want to be charged more for the services they provide or have to charge their customers more.
For higher education institutions whose budgets aren’t as big as the likes of Amazon or Facebook, it could mean slower Internet access, which could arguably set education back.
Online education has taken the sector by storm as more and more individuals realize the convenience that it affords their busy lives. The “typical” college student has shifted from someone just out of high school and still in his teens to a middle-aged working family person who is going back to school. Online courses fit more people’s schedules than ever before.
Unhinged net neutrality could cause adverse effects for higher education institutions and their students.