Moving on, the repeal could mean that the market becomes increasingly more competitive meaning that users could then be charged higher fees to access content. Brodkin (2017) also refers to Comcast’s stance on not discriminating paid prioritisation could mean that they offer ‘‘similar rates could help prevent the FCC from stepping in to block unfair trade practices.’’ (para.22) This means that by offering similar rates to companies who want their content prioritised that essentially any call for intervention from the FCC could become increasingly difficult. This will be caused by the loosening of internet regulations which would diminish the impact of the FCC. (Jagadesh, 2015, p161) also comments on the issue of ISP’s using ‘‘selfish behaviours destroying the nature of the internet.’’ By allowing ISP’s to have increasing amounts of power over content, it gives them the ability to dismantle democracy online to suit their agendas. This is because of the methods in which ISP’s can use to get around the FCC.
There is also another area of net neutrality’s battlefield that needs to be addressed. This is about the potential democratic consequences of the repeal. The removal of certain regulations puts ISP’s in a position where priority content can be bought. This means that groups that don’t have the revenue a will be less visible on the internet. Van Schewich and Farber (2009) discuss examples of discriminating behaviour of Comcast in 2007 prior to net neutrality rules. This involved Comcast shutting down ‘‘peer-to-peer file sharing connections, degrading the performance of applications such as Vuze that legally deliver television content.’’ (p32) This suggests that because of the lack of regulation prior to net neutrality that large companies with the revenue could remove any threats to income easily. This is important because it affects the individual internet user. Targeted News Service(2017) stated that the vote to repeal net neutrality had ‘‘left the American people without clear rules to protect an open internet’’ and has also ‘‘put us all at the mercy of local monopoly broadband providers’’ (para.4) The planned removal of previous net neutrality core commitments could leave ISP’s and wealthy companies the freedom to control what their consumers see and don’t see depending on their payment plans. Van Schewich and Farber (2009) state that ‘‘discrimination restricts users’ ability to choose the application and content they want to use.’’ Providing fast lanes for users automatically put people into categories depending on their income.
However, it is not only the individual that will be affected by the outcome of the vote. It is small businesses that will suffer. Nagesh (2014) discusses the discontent of website companies as well as protestors and the action they had taken. This involved as Nagesh (2014) describes as websites ‘‘place a spinning wheel icon on their websites to convey their view that the internet would function slowly.’’ (para.2) If ISP’s had control of distributing content it would mean that these smaller companies would be forced out of industry. Whilst some have claimed that ‘‘reclassifying broadband and subjecting it to greater regulation would curtail investment and innovation.’’ (Nagesh,2014, para.11) Although, net neutrality regulations have made a commitment for ensuring equality for all content. This meant that innovation especially would be encouraged by the net neutrality regulations. It is becoming more apparent from this research that the reduction of regulations generally benefits the key players of the internet. This then leads to discrimination because of the prioritising and of certain content. Businesses would not be able to compete with their competitors.