Late last year, the Federal Communications Commission got rid of rules meant to keep the internet free and open, and to treat all traffic equally. So what can internet users expect this year?
Amanda Lotz, a professor of media studies at the University of Michigan, joined Stateside to walk us through all of the media issues bubbling away on the front burner, including net neutrality and media mergers.
Listen above for the full conversation, or catch highlights below.
On a definition for net neutrality
"Net neutrality is a rule that was created under the last administrator by the FCC that requires that internet service providers, the company that delivers internet to your home, that they have to treat all content the same way. And so it can't treat certain kinds of files differently and let some go through faster than others, and it can't treat content from certain sites faster than others, and, most importantly, it can't block content."
On the intentions of service providers
"The internet service providers have said things, but their words, I think, probably are less significant than their actions, and the fact that they have lobbied and given so much money in the name of getting rid of these rules suggests that, in fact, they're not going to continue with business as it has always been, but they do have the intention of going after companies that use the internet to make money and asking them to pay fees."
On who loses if net neutrality is lost
"It's the consumers, because, at the end of the day, there are billions of dollars that these companies have – mind you, in many cases they are the dollars that we send them every month for our internet and cable service – but they've used those dollars in order to lobby regulators to have policies that work for them, and it's just the case that there really aren't groups that are able to stand up and organize and explain what seem to be complicated issues, but they really aren't, to people to have them really care and ask their legislators."
On next steps
"At the end of the day ... we need to talk to our legislators, and, instead of the FCC as a government agency making rules that it can then just turn around and remake in the next administration, what we really need is legislators to craft policy that is responsive to what the consumers want, not what the companies want."