Net Neutrality is a Big Deal

Ethan Bowman, Staff Writer

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Net Neutrality is a battle to protect Title II of the Telecommunications act. That sentence just might be the most boring one you read all day, its why so few people know what net neutrality really does. Net neutrality is arguably the most important debate of our generation, so it is vital that we know about these seemingly mandating changes that the FCC wants to make.

Simply put, net neutrality is the battle to keep our Internet free, and the only reason that does not seem more important is that we have never had it otherwise. Title II classifies broadband providers as common carriers, again a boring but important sentence. Title II means that companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast cannot block, throttle (slow down), or otherwise interfere with web traffic.

The best way to understand the importance of net neutrality is to look at some of the possible outcomes of an Internet without it. Paying for Internet would look more like paying for cable where a basic plan would only get you few channels (websites), and more channels will have to be bought in bundles “for your convenience”. Imagine going to your favorite website only to find a pop up from your Internet service provider (ISP) telling you that access to this website can be bought for just $9.99 per month.

It is not just the consumer that can be affected by this, but also companies. Big Internet companies like Netflix and Amazon could pay ISPs for higher speeds. This sounds great until you realize that they are not really making their websites faster but making everybody else’s slower. A new competitor would not be able to pay for the higher speeds and would, therefore, have a worse website. This kills competition, something that has made the Internet grow so quickly into what it is today. The Internet works best as a level playing field, and the removal of net neutrality would change that forever.

Potentially the worst consequence of an Internet without title II protections is the ability for ISP’s to censor websites. In today’s information age, this would give ISP’s tremendous power over people. If a rich company or group of people were against same-sex marriage, they could pay an ISP to block an LGBT message board, Facebook group, or activism website. It can even affect politics; a candidate could pay to have articles supporting their opponent blocked from consumers of that ISP. Censoring websites can show any company, person, or thing in a positive or negative light depending on who has the most money.

I hope that at this point that you are questioning what can be done to protect your beloved internet, which brings me to the third and last extremely boring sentence. Contact your congressman or send a message to the FCC telling them that you support title II of the Telecommunications act!




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