Net Neutrality has been a political issue gaining traction during Obama’s Presidency and has recently seen a boom in popularity due to The Federal Communications Commission voting along party lines to rollback Obama-era regulations regarding Internet service providers. This was a move that some Republicans praised as pro-business and anti-regulation, while others feared that the new rules proposed by the FCC could lead to the end of Net Neutrality. So what is Net Neutrality?
Well, PublicKnowledge.Org defines Net Neutrality as “[…] the principle that individuals should be free to access all content and applications equally, regardless of the source, without Internet Service Providers discriminating against specific online services or websites.” Another way of putting it, without Net Neutrality, “ISPs like Verizon and Comcast can prevent users from visiting some websites, provide slower speeds for services like Netflix and Hulu, or even redirect users from one website to a competing website.”
Without Net Neutrality, companies and corporations would be able to control internet speeds, what websites you can use, and charge additional fees or surcharges for visiting the websites you use every day. If there is an issue behind the scenes between Comcast and Netflix, Comcast can restrict your internet speed while using Netflix or charge you for using Netflix instead of their provided streaming service. The internet will no longer be a place where you get to decide what you want to view and when, but a place where corporations can put arbitrary restrictions on the websites you use every day in order to profit off the internet. Companies like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and others can use their power to crush competition by restricting access to their competitors which will only worsen their monopoly over internet services. Instead of the Internet being a wide-open space that gives everyone an equal opportunity to succeed, it will become a place bogged down with speed restrictions and paywalls for Facebook, Twitter, and news websites.
So what can we do to keep the Internet free? Well you can contact The Federal Communications Commission like so many people have already done.
It is our responsibility to protect the internet and voice our opposition to corporations restricting access to it. The Internet should be a place free for all where people are on equal footing, not a place where we must hurdle restrictions to view the websites we use daily. So please voice your opinion, contact the FCC, use social media to spread the message of Net Neutrality, and even go out and get involved with a local protest march or event. If Americans show our government that we want to keep the internet free for everybody, we will be able to enact change.
Peele is a citizen columnist. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.