If you live in the United States, and you’re reading this article right now, that means that we still currently have net neutrality. This is something that is currently being threatened in America by the Trump administration and the Trump-appointed Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Ajit Pai.
What is net neutrality exactly? It is essentially freedom of the internet, and on December 14th, that could all change forever when the FCC is set to vote on whether or not to repeal regulations that currently allow equal access to the internet. It is an Obama-era rule that states that Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast cannot exploit their power by charging their customers more money to gain access to certain websites. Net neutrality covers a lot of ground in that it ensures that the speed in which we access websites, the types of browsers we use, and the information that we are allowed to receive are not threatened by extreme corporate interests.
Why does the FCC want to repeal that? The New York Times editorial board summarized the goals of the FCC by explaining that they ““turn the Internet into a latter-day version of cable TV, in which they decide what customers can watch and how much they pay for that content.” This proposal would allow these mega-corporations to control what we see by placing financial barriers between the consumers and the content that is on the internet. There is absolutely no benefit to banning net neutrality that includes anything other than tremendous financial gain for these ISP’s.
As citizens who are living in a time of confusion, turmoil and distrust, this is something that we cannot afford to lose control of. Losing net neutrality would completely transform the internet forever. Once these rules are set in place, it will be extremely hard to return to how things once were. This is a radical change to the internet, and therefore the world. Can you imagine having to pay to use social media? Or to pay extra money so that Google will run faster? What if you had to pay to access certain news outlets that provide accurate information? Banning net neutrality would make all of these things a real-life possibility. It would give these companies the go-ahead to ruin the landscape of the internet as we know it and allow these capitalistic vultures to control public knowledge. That is extremely dangerous.
By cutting net neutrality, lower income households who are already at a disadvantage when it comes to having access to technology and information in general would be even more at large. This would basically guarantee that the divide between the rich and the poor would become even more extreme, and now on a digital level. Dismantling the current regulations will have a drastic effect on consumers and content creators, wipe out small businesses, and simply allow these huge companies to abuse their power for no other reason that making a profit. It is one of the most unethical and backwards proposals to come out of the Trump administration thus far.
The internet is universally known as one of the most powerfuls tool that the people have to connect with each other. It is how we form organizations, learn about important causes that we truly care about, and how we resist together. Do you think the water issue in Flint, Michigan or the Dakota Access Pipeline would have gotten as much media attention if there wasn’t a significant amount of support for change coming from people on the internet banding together? What about the video of Philando Castile being shot to death by a police officer getting posted to Facebook? Social media alone is an incredible tool that we all use to get our daily news and information from. If you have trouble differentiating between credible sources now, imagine having to do that at your own financial expense.
Not to sound cliché, but knowledge is power. Arming ourselves with information is the best defense mechanism we all have in times of crisis like this. Keeping net neutrality is a basic human right that should not be infringed upon or taken away from anyone, especially by greedy corporations. If you would like to know what you can do to help, and if you’re an American citizen, text “RESIST” to 50409 to send a letter to your representatives in Congress. It takes two seconds and is as simple as that. If you’re stuck on what to say, say something along the lines of “My name is ____ and I am a citizen of ______. I am concerned and alarmed by the FCC’s desire to end net neutrality. I support a free and open internet and I hope that as my representative you will do the same.” If you’re not an American citizen, the FCC can be reached at 1-888-225-5332, and you can also voice your opinion on their website. Stand together, resist this nonsense, and tell your friends! There’s power in numbers, and we will not let freedom of the internet die.
Written by Jenna Curcio