By Ellie Chen
Think about how much time you spend on the internet. The average American spends over ten hours on the internet every day, according to CNN. Internet use has rocketed in the past few years because it provides us almost instantaneous access to a world of information, and it allows global communication. But what if these features of the internet were suddenly taken away? Thanks to net neutrality, we have the freedom to choose which websites to visit and which applications to use. However, if net neutrality is repealed, this could soon change.
A Setup for Disaster
In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to end net neutrality rules. These rules, which came into effect in 2015, stated that internet service providers (ISPs) must provide open networks, meaning that they cannot discriminate against any lawful content by blocking websites, slowing data transfer based on the content, or providing fast internet service only for those who pay expensive premiums.
With the repeal of net neutrality, the internet we have come to known could no longer be available. Net neutrality secures the freedom we have while using the internet, allowing us to access all lawful applications without any blockage of data.
The repeal of net neutrality negatively affects the majority of people and companies. For example, The New York Times reports that many startups are worried that larger companies could have an advantage over smaller developing companies. With net neutrality gone, ISPs have control over internet speed, which could lead to unfair advantages for larger companies.
Worried by the repeal of these rules, many advocacy groups are attempting to challenge the FCC in court. Moreover, many states are already working on reinstating net neutrality, according to MIT Technology Review.
How This Could Affect Us
Not only does the repeal affect startups, it will also affect individuals, and even MV students. Because most of us get our fast internet from providers such as AT&T and Verizon, the data received through the internet could now be manipulated and analyzed without our knowledge. With this, telecommunications companies will be able to examine websites, emails, videos, and phone calls.
Moreover, this allows the companies to slow down the transportation of certain information. Companies could block their competitors’ applications and other information they do not want people to see. If a certain company is paying ISPs, the ISP could block the company’s competitors’ applications, making it impossible for users to access the information they want to.
Almost all MV courses are dependent on the internet to some degree, such as using Google Classroom for certain assignments. Furthermore, social media is widely used throughout MV, providing ways of communication of students. Once the repeal of net neutrality rules comes into effect, companies could take over the internet and prevent basic uses of the internet, such as accessing certain websites and content.
The internet serves people across the globe, but without net neutrality, the internet will be changed negatively.
The Strive for Change
Because of the controversy surrounding net neutrality, advocates in Congress are hoping that politicians will reinstate laws protecting net neutrality. Some Congress members have already made proposals regarding the federal enforcement of net neutrality rules to protect people’s internet rights.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Congress members who support net neutrality are using the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a new tool allowing Congress to undo regulatory actions within sixty days. Since the repeal of net neutrality was in December, there is still hope for net neutrality to be saved.
Net Neutrality’s Restrictions
If nothing is done to reinforce net neutrality rules, the only option to having fast internet connection could be to pay extra. According to The New York Times, internet providers in countries that do not have net neutrality, such as Portugal, have started splitting up the internet into messaging, video and social, etc. Each of these categories has its own cost, meaning that internet provision is no longer for everything; instead, each category, such as messaging, is purchased independently from the social category.
Furthermore, with net neutrality comes censorship. Imagine trying to find factual information on the internet and ending up with biased information. An internet without net neutrality is like a country without rules. Net neutrality is the foundation of the internet and is what keeps the internet such a popular and widely used source.
Innovators started developing the internet over twenty years ago. Since then, significant progress has been made to increase the use of the internet. However, with the repeal of net neutrality, defining traits of the internet such as being able to freely access any legal information will no longer exist. Do we really want take a step back and undo what we have worked so hard to create? We must continue the objection that people have started to notice and further inform people of the drawbacks of the repeal of net neutrality to prevent our basic internet rights from being taken away.