December 14: An Important Day for Net
You turn on your computer. As you wait for it to start up, you decide to use your phone to check Snapchat. Such a simple task that we think nothing of this. However, what would happen if your phone told you could not go on Snapchat because your internet plan did not allow it? Or what if your laptop would not allow you to log into your email account? You would panic, right? Net neutrality simply protects our rights to communicate freely on the internet. This prevents internet service providers from limiting our access as well as partnering with other companies to push specific advertisements upon us while we browse the web. It also prevents these companies from controlling which websites we have the ability to access, as well as which ones thrive in today’s society. Depending on which internet service provider you have could determine what you are allowed to do on the internet. Without net neutrality to protect us, the internet would become a mess of advertising guzzling our money, as completing simple tasks become a nightmare. Internet service providers will be given the opportunity to break internet access into separate packages, such as separating phone versus computer access or even separating which apps and websites you are allowed to access. Net neutrality helps to protect our freedom of choice on the internet. In 2015, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) used Title II in order to create the strong net neutrality rules we have today. Title II provides an even playing field on the internet in order to provide us with net neutrality. Internet service providers have fought hard against these regulations since their installation, but the courts have ruled in favor of free internet. Currently, the FCC is headed by Republican chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer. He, along with the rest of the FCC, is planning on dismantling the net neutrality regulations. According to the New York Times, internet service providers argue that this plan will allow them to provide a wider option of services at both higher and lower prices. Pai comments that the FCC will still require the companies to be transparent about their practices so that the consumers can choose the best package for them. The FCC is expected to vote on this issue on December 14. Currently, the committee has a republican majority, meaning that net neutrality could be eliminated sooner than you think. Internet service providers are lobbying for the removal of these regulations while many other industry groups lobby for the existing regulations to remain intact. Citizens themselves have also vocalized their opinions on the issue by submitting a comment via the FCC website. Net neutrality is not the only thing that the FCC has strived to remove. Since Trump appointed Pai, the FCC has eliminated rules that protect the public interest in regards to television broadcasters, newspapers, and telecom companies, as well as planning on eliminating a rule limiting any corporation from controlling broadcasts that can reach more than 39 percent of American homes. The FCC has been working in practically silence as many other issues have overshadowed them. However, Americans should take the time to look into the FCC’s plans and voice their own opinions as their decisions could drastically alter the way we live our lives today. Take the time to contact your congressman and tell them your feelings on net neutrality. December 14 is right around the corner, and you don’t want to miss your chance to decide how you want your internet provided to you.