By Hannah Holder
Blog Content Contributor
On Dec. 14, 2017 net neutrality was repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC regulates interstate and international communications via radio, television, wire, satellite and cable throughout the United States. This five person agency was appointed by the recently elected President, Mr. Donald Trump. Trump appointed the head-chairman as Ajit Pai, who strongly opposes net neutrality. This was already a bad start for Trump’s presidency: electing someone who strongly opposes net neutrality as the head-chairman when that position has the strongest influence amongst the agency. Not many Americans are aware of what the ending of net neutrality means, so I am here to help explain it.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality is the right to access anything on the internet without being charged for it or being forced to face slower/faster internet services than others. We have assumed the internet would always be free and inclusive for us Americans. We never thought we would be denied access to certain websites, face slower internet services or would have to pay to use Facebook, Snapchat, Google, Youtube, etc.
How does this affect me?
Without net neutrality, the FCC will allow internet service providers to decide on what internet users can or cannot access. This allows for internet providers to compete with each other, trying to see who can make the most money, resulting in high internet rates for Americans. In a world of distrust, it will be hard to stay informed or see multiple perspectives without net neutrality –internet service providers will be allowed to block certain content from users. For example, if the company Comcast consist of mostly conservatives then most likely Comcast will only allow access to Republican-supportive websites like Fox News and The Wall Street Journal. Minorities are concerned for this very reason — they could be denied access to websites that openly support minorities.
Should I be worried?
Not to frighten you, but yes, you should be worried. Unless you are already financially well-off, this will affect you, too. As a college student, I cannot imagine paying for Google or Quizlet. As a Mass Communication/Journalism major, I cannot imagine paying for Twitter and The Washington Post to keep up-to-date with news and the environment around me. I already pay $7.99 a month for Netflix’s basic package, I cannot imagine how much I would be paying for the same package in time to come when the repeal of net neutrality goes into effect. Imagine the troubles minorities already face. Now imagine how they will feel when they might not be able to access the page they created to discuss issues they face. The internet is also a form of communication for many people throughout the world. Imagine not being able to afford to communicate to your grandma via Facebook who happens to live overseas, even in a different time-zone.
What can I do to help?
Although the repealing of net neutrality has not kicked in yet, it may happen soon. The FCC has faced extreme backlash for their decision, even after many Americans used their voice to tell the FCC how they feel about net neutrality. No matter what your political stance is, net neutrality should be supported — and it seems like it was heavily supported by both parties, even though the outcome was not what we were expecting. However, you can still continue to fight the FCC’s decision. Inform your lawmakers on how you feel, tell them to overturn this repealment. Help congress successfully overturn the FCC’s decision.
Featured image by Hannah Holder.