Bits: Daily Report: Removing Checks to the Power of the Internet Titans

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Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, plans to loosen the rules governing net neutrality. Credit Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Net neutrality — the concept that no online content should receive preferential treatment — has long been viewed as something of an equalizer between telecom companies and internet companies.

So when Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said last week that he planned to loosen the rules governing net neutrality, the reaction was predictable. Critics of the move said telecom companies would be helped by the change and internet companies would be hurt by it, because they might have to pay more to deliver online content.

But the New York Times technology columnist Farhad Manjoo views it somewhat differently. The biggest internet companies won’t necessarily be hurt by any dismantling of net neutrality, he writes. Instead, doing away with net neutrality will only help cement the power of internet behemoths like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

How’s that? Without net neutrality rules, the deepest-pocketed internet companies — and some of them have very deep pockets indeed — could simply pay to have their content digitally delivered in the fastest lanes, Farhad says. They could easily outspend start-ups and small rivals to do so. And that way, their hegemonies not only would persist but also could potentially grow.

In other words, if Mr. Pai gets his way, the internet will be even less fair than it used to be.

“The giants seem likely to keep getting bigger,” Farhad writes. “If we give them a chance to buy up every fast lane online, we’ll be removing another check on their untamed power.”

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Source: New York Times – Technology

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