We live in a digital age in which almost every facet of life is influenced in some way by the existence of screens and programming. Perhaps the most important form of this digital world is the internet.
And who are responsible for this widespread use of the internet? That would be internet service providers such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. They are the businesses which give individuals access to the entirety of the internet.
However, though such providers are private businesses, there are copious government regulations which prevent them from intruding on an equal internet for all, meaning equal access and connectivity. Such regulations are all implemented to assist with the idea of net neutrality, or the idea that all websites, which include apps on your phone, should be treated equally. It is the idea that government and private businesses must treat everything online as equal.
For an individual living in America, these regulations make it so you can’t be charged extra for getting better connection, you can’t have certain websites (which compete with Internet service providers) be purposefully slowed down, and that some websites aren’t directly silenced or hidden from you.
In America, we have net neutrality laws to make sure those such things don’t occur. However, nations who don’t have such protections deal with the consequences. Portugal for instance has internet service providers which are beginning to segment the internet into different packages.
There, as is the case with many other countries which lack net neutrality, an individual might have to pay a monthly fee just to have access to messenger apps and websites like Skype or iMessage. Then they would have to pay another monthly fee to have access to social media apps and websites. And another monthly fee for music, and another for video. Even having access to email services could be charged separately.
In other countries like China, without net neutrality, the government implements firewalls to prevent its citizens from accessing particular websites. Net neutrality is a key part to America’s freedom of the press, without it a report by Fox News or the New York Times with exposing information on the government or on businesses could be hidden from an individual.
Clearly these laws are vital to an individual’s personal freedoms during the age of the internet, so why is it in the news?
That is because members of congress are attempting to remove such regulations, and they’re getting close to actually doing it. Republican party chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, the FCC, Ajit Pai has just had the approval of the FCC to move the vote foward to congress, which is currently a republican majority. It is rumored that the vote will be held on December 14th.
This will be a date that is critically important to basically the entire United States. Based on studies by Pew Research Center, only about 13 percent of adults in America don’t use the internet. And even still, those individuals are greatly affected by the internet because the government, and the future members of the government use the internet all the time. Yet, despite that there is direct action in congress to support the removal of these freedoms.
In 2014, members of congress’ Subcommittee of Communications, Technology, and the Internet, made a net total of almost 2 million dollars off of Telecommunication companies such as those mentioned above. That was during the Obama Administration’s instalment of net neutrality regulations, and the numbers are only expected to have gone up since then.
At the end of the day, this shouldn’t be an issue of politics. Every single person is affected by this, but politicians are willing to ignore their moral and occupational obligations of representing the citizens of America.
There isn’t anything to debate in this discussion, if fully educated it could be virtually guaranteed that every single American would want keep their net neutrality. However, corrupt politicians could very well be responsible for, quite literally, stripping Americans of their rights online. If net neutrality goes away, it is just another way for the rich to prosper over the poor, who wouldn’t be able to afford the increase of internet prices.
This is not a Republican/ Democratic issue that the country faces. Political philosophy should not be what influences people in this issue. To be blunt, these appeals are backed mainly by republicans, but that shouldn’t matter. If you’re a republican, don’t align with what the politicians are saying, take a stand and make it so they align with you.
Net neutrality is something which matters no matter what walk of life you come from. On the internet, your gender, sexuality, race, philosophies, and interests do not matter, and, regardless of those, you will be negatively affected without net neutrality. It doesn’t matter what you do online or how often you do it, the loss of security and equality on the internet would lead to drastic and damaging causes to every single person in America.
Everyone needs to understand that if the battle for net neutrality is lost, each person, even if they don’t recognize it, is placed at some sort of inherent disadvantage. We can allow ourselves to be divided on building a wall, on creating universal healthcare, and on how we should deal with North Korea. What we can not allow is for us to be divided on an issue so influential for the future that is net neutrality.