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Neutrality on the internet: will this law catch on?

The principle of internet neutrality allows us to access the network in an environment of absolute equality, as if all Internet users were in a virtual public square. Such a principle has enabled large Internet oligopolies to flourish, such as Faceboook and Google. Although here in Brazil the principle of neutrality has been assured to Brazilians, in the United States the debate is increasingly fierce.
Although apparently the main reason for neutrality is commercial, there are other, much more relevant reasons for greater and more effective control of information traveling on the network. So much so that President Barack Obama recently named Tom Wheleer, as director of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), the Anatel-equivalent body in Brazil and responsible for regulating the impact of the discussion of consumer neutrality on telecommunications products and services.
Given the background of Tom Wheleer, a former industry lobbyist, his appointment sounded like a betrayal to consumers, as Obama was once in favor of maintaining neutrality. US court has already ruled that it is lawful for content companies such as Netflix, for example, to pay additional fees for telecom operators to prioritize their access. What is being discussed now is whether and how much the consumer who contracts the internet service will have to pay.
If the FCC allows content that travels over the internet to be charged separately, everything we understand and experience as the internet today will change. Instead of a single account to traffic any type of content, there will be separate charges for each type of traffic because of the bandwidth it occupies. For example, there will be one type of contract for video trafficking, another for email, and so on.
Because of this, what is decided by the FCC will certainly influence the entire ecosystem of companies operating on the Internet, especially with regard to telecom operators and content providers. Another exponentially growing market that will be affected is e-commerce. As we are talking about growing and present billionaire markets around the world, the way this industry is organized can undergo profound transformations.
While there is a recently passed law in Brazil that defines neutrality as a fundamental principle, it is too early to celebrate that it will last long, especially if US companies change their way of charging for access to services. In a world where everything can be bought and access to any differentiated goods costs more, it is no wonder that the Internet, at least to this day, has managed to maintain itself in a truly democratic space in the most intrinsic sense of the term. , where all Internet users have the same rights.
Today telecom operators lose billions of dollars because they cannot block or control the use of applications such as Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, among others, which enable worldwide chat or voice communication. If telecom operators can block or charge the use of these applications, distance learning platforms, and other services that are intrinsically entrenched in people’s daily lives, we are now contemplating the end of the Internet as we have known it before.
* Dane Avanzi is Aerbras vice president, managing director of the Avanzi Institute, telecommunication attorney, and author of the books “Digital Radiocommunication: Synergy and Productivity” and “How to Manage Projects”.

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