Net Neutrality: How do you stand?
December 20, 2017
Net neutrality, a policy that requires Internet providers to equal access to all content, applications and data, was instated by the Federal Communication Commision in 2015 during the Obama adminstration. On Dec. 14, the FCC reversed their stand.
Two students provide arguments for and against this change.
New Internet battle
When one hears of an ‘internet battle,’ thoughts usually center on arguments in the depths of social comment sections. From YouTube to Facebook, people are constantly at each other’s throats over almost anything anyone can fight over. However, when the issue of net neutrality took a step in the spotlight, a new kind of internet battle commenced.
On December 14, 2017, the land of the free and the home of the brave left the fate of net neutrality to the Federal Communications Commission. This nation, supposedly the embodiment of democracy, allowed only five unelected officials to choose what 83% of the nation had already made a decision on. To the dismay of many accross the country, the decision was not what most wanted it to be. Three of the five voted in favor of repealing net neutrality, but the battle has just begun.
What is net neutrality, one might ask? Despite the endless flood of resistance that citizens have exhibited to everyone from local representatives to Congress, it is no surprise that many are still concernedly uninformed about the subject.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, net neutrality means “applying well-established ‘comon carrier’ rules to the internet in order to preserve its freedom and openness.” In simpler terms, it means that network oweners cannot discriminate against any information by tampering with the transfer of data in any way.
Although many people argue that repealing net neutrality will not make much of a difference, considering it has only been around for about two years, it is important to note that common carriage is a concept that is centuries old. Before the internet, it was applied to several facilities central to public life and economy. As the nation developed and internet use became increasingly common, the rule was extended to include the cyber world.
What people need to understand is that taking away net neutrality means making ourselves more susceptible to network manipulation. If a network owner does not like a particular piece of data, they might have its transfer slowed down or blocked.
As a basic hypothetical example of this, your phone company might interfere with your calls by dropping them or worsening their connection every time you try to call a certain pizza chain, simply because a competing chain is paying them. This concept can be applied to websites, emails, videos, internet calls, online games, and social networks.
This breach of data transfer intereferes with the America’s very foundation. Freedom of speech and press can be affected, and cencorship can easily become a heavy issue.
Unsurprisngly, people have become very outspoken about the topic. Many celebrities took advantage of their well-viewed platforms to spread awareness and show where they stand. Cole Sprouse, an actor currently known for his role in the CW’s “Riverdale,” took to Twitter to express his aggravation.
“[Repealing net neutrality] is a horrible mistake, and so ushers in the end of a free Internet age that has led to some of the greatest innovations of our era. The effects of this decision will likely take some time to see implementation, and there are still organizations that are suing and trying to overturn the FCC’s greedy choice,” he tweeted, hopeful that resistance can still combat the vote for repeal.
Even Netflix, a network that already charges customers for their services, expressed their dissapointment. They were some among several to feel this way.
“We’re dissapointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality protections that ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, creativity & civic engagement. This is the beginning of a longer legal battle. Netflix stands w/innovators, large and small, to oppose this misguided FCC order.”— Netflix US (@Netflix) December 14, 2017
“3 people just decided that 323 million of us don’t need to decide what we have full access to on the internet. Are you mad? You should be mad.”— Grayson Hunter Goss (@GraysonHunterG) December 14, 2017
“EVERYONE should care about this! It benefits no one unless you’re a faceless, mega corporation. NOBODY is asking for it.”— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) December 14, 2017
“The FCC just voted to dismantle #netneutrality. This represents a radical departure that risks erosion of the biggest free speech platform the world has ever known.”— ACLU (@ACLE) Dcember 14, 2017
Indeed, the fight is far from over. Although not everyone is open to getting involved in large legal battles, there are small steps that can be taken in order to combat the repeal.
Two simple means of resistance include writing or calling congress. Certain platforms make this process simple and straightforward. At batleforthenet.com, people can write and send messages to Congress. You can also go through their mobile platform by texting ‘BATTLE’ to 384-387.
Another similar option is to text ‘RESIST’ to 504-09. A chain of automated messages will guide you through writing a fax that will be sent to your option of Congress, House, Senate, president, or governer.
Net neutrality is a gateway to everything from educational opportunities to freedom of expression. Freedom is not something Americans should buy or be blocked from, and it is a right guaranteed by what this country is supposed to represent. If we are to claim that we endorse freedom as a nation, then net neutrality must be saved.
No-no to net neutrality
Why is it that I am the only one who sees the cons of net neutrality? Net neutrality was implicated in the lives of every American in 2015 by Barack Obama’s administration. The idea behind net neutrality may have been just, but there are many cons to this new policy along with many alternatives to equal internet usage.
Net neutrality is defined as”the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites” by Google.
President Obama decided to add the “principle” of net neutrality to internet providers everywhere and justified this action with the argument: “The Internet is like electricity. It is fundamental to the 21st-century economy, as essential to functioning in modern society as electricity. It is a public utility. We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas,” reported by the New York Times.
Back in 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to put net neutrality in place, but in December 2017, the debate broke out once more. As of Dec. 14, the FCC repealed net neutrality.
Many individuals, especially the younger generations, are fighting the FCC and hoping as this debate will taken to court so net neutrality will not be repealed. Are the ones who are pro-net neutrality fighting for this cause for fear of losing free social media or are they actually educated on the topic?
On social media sites everywhere, there are posts telling their followers to text their senators in support of net neutrality, and often attached is a picture of social media prices after the principle is repealed. But do they know what else goes into net neutrality?
Prior to 2015, the country lived without net neutrality and every individual continued to use the same social media networks without complaint. This debate is much like the saying, “When you throw a dog a bone, it makes that dog very happy. If you hadn’t given the bone to the dog, you probably would’ve just thrown it in the trash.” If you never gave American’s net neutrality, they would have continued their daily internet usage, but now you’ve given it to them, they do not want to let go.
I am against equal internet, but there are alternatives. Also, I do not trust the FCC to maintaining net neutrality as public policy.
The main argument stated by the Washington Post is “It is fair to say that the market is not robustly competitive. This gives rise to concerns that ISPs will have more than a modicum of market power and that they may use this power anti-competitively in ways that harm consumers”
I want more competition. The United States is a nation built on capitalism and competition. The idea of net neutrality has its benefits, but why should we only have equality in the telecommunication service industry? As a nation, we do not see equality anywhere. Why is it that comes when it comes to the Internet, everyone gets defensive?
I want more privacy. Freedom of speech is imprinted so heavily in the lives of Americans. When there is a subject one feels passionate about, their first instinct is to protect themselves with the freedom of speech card. If net neutrality stays intact, the government controls every individual’s internet history.
I want more freedom. Forbes states, “If I believed the U.S. government was omniscient, had only good intentions, and that those intentions would never change, I would be in favor of Net Neutrality and more. But it wasn’t all that long ago that FDR was locking up U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry in concentration camps and Woodrow Wilson was outlawing political dissent.” The government is rather unjust and takes favor to specifics. The inequitable nature of the US government makes me, a citizen, feel as if they controlled my internet, the well-intentions would soon fade.
An alternative to Net Neutrality, the United States could have ISPs, which keep the idea of net neutrality intact, but within their service. The idea of paying more causes many to turn the other way, but aren’t you paying for internet right now, too? If net neutrality is repealed, the equality established among our internet servers will not go away; it just won’t be in the hands of our government.
Having alternatives to net neutrality gives our nation the widespread private internet use we held previously without government involvement. The pictures you may be seeing with sticker prices along with the repeal of net neutrality are only there to scare you rather than helping you understand the ropes behind net neutrality.
Overall, I am for equal internet. Are you?