Expert on what net neutrality means for you

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The ruling made by the Federal Trade Commission Thursday in favor of net neutrality shouldn’t immediately affect Internet usage, a West Michigan digital strategist told 24 Hour News 8.

All five FCC commissioners spoke at length about the net neutrality decision. Three called it an issue of free speech and economics.

During her comments, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the free Internet is “our printing press; it is our town square.”

“The Internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression. The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler added.

The remaining two were against regulating the Internet, saying the FCC didn’t have the authority and it was an overreach.

“The order imposes intrusive government regulations that won’t work to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Commissioner Ajit Pai. “The Internet is not broken. There is no problem for the government to solve… That Internet freedom works should be apparent for anyone with an Apple iPhone or Microsoft  Surface.”

The decision means that each piece of data online will have equal standing, so websites can’t pay Internet service providers like Comcast or AT&T more to make sure one site loads seconds faster than another and there won’t be any so-called “Internet fast lanes.”

Digital strategist Derek DeVries said no one should notice any changes — at least for now.

“It was essentially the law prior to this legislative framework being the case, but there wasn’t anything codified,” said DeVries. “It’s a challenge for the legal system to keep up with what’s going on in tech, and I would say that it’s a mischaracterization that this is some kind of new regulation — it’s sort of just enshrining what’s already been the case.”

Despite the ruling, DeVries said the debate will likely continue in the courts and possibly in the legislature, so Thursday’s decision is likely not a definitive one.

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