Why you need to pay attention to net neutrality regulations.
Since its introduction to the general public in 1990, the internet became a powerful tool by placing the world at the fingertips of the average American. Information to almost anything is now a click, a Google search and a Wi-Fi connection away.
Now, the internet is a colossal asset in the everyday life of the consumer. However, the Federal Communications Commission wants to repeal previous regulations that allow the internet to remain free and open. This will make your internet access slower, limited and expensive. Understanding net neutrality and fighting back is vital to keep the internet a free and open method of exchanging of ideas.
What’s going on?
When we open up our browsers on our desktops, laptops and mobile devices, we expect quick and easy access to whatever website or information we seek, and maybe a Wi-Fi hotspot. With current net neutrality regulations from the Obama-era in place, we can rely on our internet service providers to not interrupt that flow of information or require us to pay more to access faster connection and specific streaming services or sites.
On Dec. 14, 2017 the FCC, led by chairman Ajit Pai, voted to repeal the 2015 regulations on internet. Pai was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2017 and formerly worked as a Verizon lawyer. Pai is responsible for introducing the idea that by creating internet fast lanes, the internet will thrive.
With current net neutrality rules in place, the internet is already able to thrive as a free market. The most prominent argument against repealing this level of neutrality is that the FCC would be infringing on free speech by putting a price on access.
What does that mean?
According to the Washington Post, internet providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast will have the ability to charge for speed without regulations in place. Streaming companies like Netflix or Hulu will most likely be asked to pay for access to these fast lanes and in turn, end up increasing their prices.
This means not only will we as consumers pay for internet packages that allow us minimal access, but now we will also have to pay for fast and reliable connection to only parts of the internet. This also creates a similar situation to when big businesses drown out small businesses. Websites and streaming services that can not afford to pay for these faster lanes of internet connection will be drowned out by companies that can afford it.
According to the Pew Research Center, in a study on the feedback the FCC collected from the public reported that results of their surveying came “inaccuracies and duplicates.”
The report also stated that many of the submissions recorded “seemed to include false or misleading personal information,” cotinated “clear evidence of organized campaigns to flood comments with repeated messages” and “often thousands of comments were submitted at the precisely the same time.”
This was in addition to the email validation process set up by the FCC only working about three percent of the time. The report stated that even emails such as “firstname.lastname@example.org” made the cut for public comment on net neutrality.
The FCC is not only making unconstitutional steps toward limiting the flow of information and placing the power of those limits in the hands of corporations, but they are playing dirty to do it.
How you can fight back
The states are just beginning to take action, but you can too. On March 5, Washington became the first state to fight back against the FCC on repealing net neutrality.
According to the New York Times, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill preventing internet providers from “blocking and slowing down content online.”
On a smaller level, as a citizen, you can voice your opposition by visiting websites that help you locate your House of Representatives and Senate representatives. Write to them and express your opposition to what the FCC is doing and encourage them to act against these changes. In turn, getting involved locally will encourage more states to join Washington in passing state legislatures that disagree with the limitations the FCC wishes to implement.