Why the FCC’s possible decision to repeal net neutrality should be a big deal to you

A repeal of net neutrality would provide for devastating consequences for all internet users in the United States


By Kaoru Murai

A repeal of net neutrality is a bad idea: and you should be concerned about the FCC’s upcoming decision as well.

Kaoru Murai, Social Media Editor & Website Manager

The internet is a beautiful invention. It allows millions of people around the globe to connect and share information within a second of tapping the phone screen. It is now part of everyone’s lives: we use it to find information, to communicate with friends and family, to complete homework, to apply for jobs, and to entertain us. Smooth-acting, fast internet is a vital tool for anybody to conduct business in the digital era. Taking away this tool would be devastating to all individuals, which is precisely what the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is trying to do.

Following President Trump’s rearrangement of the FCC last spring, the organization immediately announced it would reconsider the net neutrality regulations put in place in 2015.

These net neutrality regulations require internet service providers (ISPs) to provide equal connection speeds to all websites. They also prevent them from blocking or slowing certain web content. Today, we take net neutrality for granted. Therefore, we are not aware of the massive consequences that will inevitably come with its abolishment. In the event this does occur, which is very likely, everything will change: internet as we know it will not exist.

An increase in everyone’s phone bills

Current net neutrality regulations prohibit ISPs from blocking or slowing down connections to certain websites. However, once these are taken away, ISPs would have complete control over who sees what, when and how. They would be given complete control over not only internet speed, but how much to charge consumers to use their services. Everything from internet browsing to gaming to video streaming is subject to this change. Consumers would totally be at their mercy; without regulation, ISPs could bundle websites such as Netflix and YouTube as the “Video-Streaming Package” or Twitter and Instagram as the “Social Media Package” and charge separate fees for each genre of website. Since there are virtually no competitors for major companies such as Verizon or AT&T in the industry, we would be able to do nothing but go along with it.

A big, fat roadblock for economic growth

Consumers would not be the only ones subject to an increase in fees. Companies of various sizes who conduct business over the internet would suffer as well. Without regulation, corporations could have the privilege of paying ISPs to favor their websites over others who choose not to pay. For example, a large brand such as Nike could pay ISPs to allow users better connection to reach their website, while a lesser-known athletic brand doesn’t have the resources to pay the extra fee. Free commerce on the internet would not exist.

Internet is a vital tool in everyone’s lives. People use it for everything, from business, to expressing opinions, for shopping, and to access healthcare. We, as students, constantly use the internet to do our homework, conduct research, and procrastinate on social media. Abolishing net neutrality could potentially mean waiting for Google Docs to load for several hours, or having no access to non-profit informational websites when we just need to do some simple research.

Taking away our voice in the world

Most importantly, it could potentially lead to a violation of our First Amendment rights to free speech and press. Living without net neutrality could mean restrictions on what we see, do and say on the internet. Now, we are able to look anything up on Google and be aware of what’s happening in the world around us. We have the privilege of being able to speak up for what we believe in and share our creativity with others around the world. Without net neutrality, all of these ways of easy communication and free speech are taken out of our grasp. Those who cannot afford fast connection, and those who have unpopular opinions deemed “inappropriate” by the ISPs would lose their voice.

Abolishing net neutrality may be beneficial for the select few broadband companies, such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter. However, the stakes are too high for everyone else. There would be vast consequences for all people in society, students, consumers and businesses alike. Virtually all services would require consumers to pay extra fees for services previously offered at lower prices. Those unable to cover these extra expenses would lose their voices on the internet, losing access to the technological and societal mobility that it allows.

Net neutrality is an essential element of current daily life, and it would be an immense mistake to remove it in the United States.

Learn more about Net Neutrality here: https://centralstampede.com/7025/news/internet-users-may-be-required-to-pay-extra-fees-to-access-popular-sites-such-as-netflix-snapchat-or-instagram-in-2018/