On the heels of the Federal Communications Commission voting to repeal the net neutrality rules that keep the internet free and open for everyone, the United Nations’ expert on freedom of speech expressed concern Wednesday that the ramifications of that decision could lead to small and independent voices being silenced on the web.
David Kaye, an American law professor and the independent expert on freedom of expression for the U.N. Human Rights Council, told Reuters that net neutrality—the idea that all internet traffic should be treated the same regardless of content—was essential.
“Net neutrality is a really, really important principle from the perspective of ensuring broad access to information by all individuals,” Kaye said. “I don’t want to say that tomorrow there will be a huge amount of censorship, but over the long term, combine this with the concentration of media in the United States and in most places around the world, I think we should be worried about the ability of smaller voices that often [find it] harder to get traction in the market.”
Kaye indicated that it could take years to know exactly what impact the U.S. move will have.
Last week, despite protestations from American citizens and politicians alike, the FCC voted 3-2 to remove internet protection rules put in place by President Barack Obama’s administration in 2015.
By doing so, the commission essentially opened the door for internet service providers and broadband companies to make a variety of changes that would ultimately negatively affect consumers, including charging for tiered internet packages for access to different content, slowing down connections to certain websites and preventing access to others.
“My concern in the U.S. space is that over time, the companies will make decisions based more on their business model than on the content of information and the breadth of information that people should have access to,” Kaye said. “That’s a long-term problem and that’s why I’m very, very concerned about the rollback of net neutrality.”
Read more at U.S. News & World Report.