Necessity of net neutrality

How nullifying net neutrality targets certain demographics

Laurel Westerman, Social Media Editor

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Our world relies on instant connections. With the touch of a button (or a voice command), access is granted to an ever-evolving, constantly updated database containing answers to questions most wouldn’t think to ask. This once free service has essentially been coined as a utility, which has the potential to change everything about how the internet works.

By now, most everyone has heard of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and their controversial Dec. 14 decision to repeal former president Barack Obama’s net neutrality rules. But what exactly is net neutrality, and what happens next?

2015’s net neutrality rules, as defined by The New York Times, prevented broadband providers from blocking websites and/or charging for higher quality service or content. The repeal, created by the FCC’s chairman, Ajit Pai, categorized Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), subsequently removing much of the FCC’s regulation powers, and ending the government’s ability to regulate high-speed internet delivery. ISPs have essentially become unmonitored, giving providers the opportunity to control how people use the internet.

In other words,  net neutrality makes all internet traffic equal, and with the repeal, the government has lost some of its power to regulate how Internet consumers are billed. This can drastically increase what ISPs like At&t, Verizon, and Comcast charge. Net neutrality prevented customers being charged varying amounts based on video/website quality. Now, you could be forced to pay a lot more for using Google or watching anything on Netflix.

Most places also have very few ISPs, meaning that you either pay what is demanded, or you go without internet.

Unsurprisingly, this is where most of the controversy comes into play. Most consumers, politicians and companies like Google and Netflix alike, are against the repeal of Obama’s net neutrality rules. They each send so much data, and with prices for accessing specific aspects/sites increasing, this could cause them to lose a lot of money.

Information, and access to it, has been treated as a right for a long time. Libraries have been free for the American public to access since 1833, when, according to the Digital Public Library of America, the first entirely tax-supported library was established in New Hampshire. It seems rather unlawful, and frankly elitist, to classify information as accessible to only those with the financial ability to afford it. Why should money be the discriminating factor for determining access to information?

Despite the many remarks that say the fight to save net neutrality is over, actions can still be taken to influence the outcome of this situation. This vote was rushed, but that will not make the rest of the government act any quicker than usual. Net neutrality has not disappeared, and the repeal might not go into effect for months.

If you believe that a corporate free-for-all isn’t the kind of internet you want, I strongly encourage you to contact your local politicians and other elected officials around the country. You can visit the website battleforthenet.com to see a script of what to say, numbers for offices, and a “mass” letter to send. This is effective as your politicians act to keep their constituents content, and if they learn that we are against this repeal, they will become aware of the issue and know that they cannot simply wait it out.

No one should be denied information because of their financial situation. Net neutrality, and the correlating right of access, should be preserved to help maintain a free, open internet for everyone.

 

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Necessity of net neutrality