As of now you have probably heard a lot about the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its examination surrounding Net Neutrality, right? Well, some people actually have not.
Most of us have never heard of Net Neutrality, what it means or why we should care about it. There is good reason for that too, Chairman of the FCC Ajit Pai doesn’t want to bring attention to this nor do they necessarily have to.
To put it plainly, Net Neutrality has to do with the regulation and Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) control of the world wide web. The mainstream media has not done justice covering Net Neutrality despite how crucial it is to our society, our democracy and even our right to free speech.
Currently the ISP monopoly — Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and so on — is lobbying the FCC to get rid of Net Neutrality protections.
What do those protections entail exactly? The Electronic Frontier Foundation puts it simply: “The idea that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks fairly, without improper discrimination in favor of particular apps, sites or services.”
In other words, the company that we pay in order to have access to the internet cannot block, promote or restrict any content of the world wide web.
This means that if Verizon hypothetically works out a deal with the streaming service Hulu, they cannot restrict or slow down your bandwidth (internet connection strength and speed) when you try to connect to Netflix.
The ACLU describes this scenario as “new technologies now allow telecom companies to scrutinize every piece of information we send or receive online — websites, email, videos, internet phone calls, or data generated by games or social networks.”
And they can program the computers that route that information to interfere with the data flow by slowing down or blocking traffic and communicators that they don’t like and speeding up traffic they do like or that pays them extra for the privilege.”
Take that into account with the political tampering of the Internet. What is to stop companies from restricting certain viewpoints and promoting others? This now becomes a matter of not just free speech but of your right to information.
The only people that would benefit from the repeal of Net Neutrality are ISP companies that can use the complete deregulation of Broadband communication services to help their profits.
Sadly, the damage has already been done. According to Taylor Hatmaker of TechCrunch, “in a 215-205 vote on Senate Joint Resolution 34 (H. Res. 230), the House voted to repeal broadband privacy regulations that the Obama administration’s FCC introduced in 2016.
ISPs no longer need to seek consent from their customers in order to share their sensitive private data (it’s worth noting that ISPs can collect it, either way).”
Although that is a big blow, it’s nothing compared to removing Net Neutrality. Pai proposed the agency repeal its 2015 decision to reclassify broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.
Here is what we can do: We need to call our senators and representatives, call the FCC and make noise. The Internet was meant to be an open tool free from restrictions, and the FCC knows they can’t win without making sure people aren’t informed.
So much so that “Comcast, AT&T are paying minority groups to support killing net neutrality,” as TechDirt reported.
Countries like Mexico are already suffering from lack of ISP protections. Not only is data and broadband expensive in these places, but companies make partnerships with other companies also such as Uber to promote themselves and undermine fair competition.
If you care about your Netflix or memes, do something before Net Neutrality is gone. If it’s gone, the way we access the Internet will change indefinitely, and not for the better.
If you want to help protect Net Neutrality, you can support groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU and Free Press who are fighting to keep Net Neutrality.
Editor’s note: On Wednesday, October 25 at 11 a.m., the lede of this story was corrected.