The Many Opinions Towards Net Neutrality

The internet has taken over and the necessity of WiFi has grown tenfold this past decade. Gone are the days of people waiting at the television or radio to get their daily news. Nowadays, the world relies on memes, forums, and tiny bite sized bits of information of 140 characters or less. To think that all of these apps are only about a decade old is hard to realize sometimes considering the day to day need to use them. The world has become both bigger and smaller at the same time. Bigger in the sense that we understand just how many opinions and ideas there are in the world. Smaller in the way that we are all connected now. People ranging from adults, kids, monks, politicians, and even criminals all taking a small moment to appreciate a trending cat video, while pressing like afterwards.

It seems that modern technology and social media has really provided many benefits to our livelihood. However, just like when man discovered fire many eons ago, it is quite the double edged sword. Big corporations and politicians finally understand the power of the internet. How it can change opinions and viewpoints with a few words and a click of a button. This has led to many trying to take advantage and take a hold of this tool that many of us take for granted. As a result, the federal government has laid out a set of rules and principles to prevent large corporations or the government itself from meddling with the internet. These sets of principles are known as “Net Neutrality”. Fung (2017) of the Washington Post explains:

Net neutrality is the idea that your Internet provider, be it Comcast, Verizon, AT&T or Charter, shouldn’t be allowed to arbitrarily manipulate Internet content you’ve requested as it travels across their networks. It’s a concept that says all websites, applications and services should be equally accessible to the consumer and not slowed down, blocked or subjected to extra fees before it reaches your screen.

Thanks to these “net neutral” restrictions, the amount of data that we receive is not due to internet providers favoring certain websites over others.

So now the term has been defined, what are the reasons as to why someone would support or reject these restrictions? Well, Net Neutrality has been something that mostly Democrats and liberals have been supporting. While the opposition is often inhabited by Republicans and conservatives who do not appreciate the government stepping in and regulating the internet. A major spokesperson of the anti-net neutrality cause is Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Pai has repeatedly made his stance clear about Net Neutrality since being elected by President Donald Trump in January of 2017: Internet service providers should handle the internet, not the federal government. In a Washington Post article, Pai is quoted saying “Internet providers weren’t interested in blocking websites or throttling content, so there is no need for the FCC’s Open Internet order prohibiting the practice” (Fung, 2017). Pai believes that internet providers will not take advantage of the lack of Net Neutrality and that releasing restrictions can help promote more competition.

Known as one of the biggest foes of Net Neutrality, Ajit Pai was elected Chairman of the FCC by President Donald Trump on January 2017. His plans to get rid of Net Neutrality and loosen restrictions towards internet service providers (ISPs) has sparked many debates as to whether or not ISPs will take advantage of this. An important fact to keep in mind: Pai used to work for the large ISP Verizon and was in charge of competition and regulatory issues.

This notion that providers won’t favor certain websites was challenged by The New York Times writer Tim Wu (2017) who writes:

Make no mistake: While killing net neutrality may be rolled out with specious promises of ‘’free video,’’ there is nothing here for ordinary people. Lowering prices is just not something that cable or phone companies will do except under pressure. Instead, the repeal of net neutrality will simply create ways for cable and phone companies to tax the web and increase your broadband bill.

Wu is not the only one who believes this as well. Large public figures such as former President Obama and his administration were quite open about supporting Net Neutrality and how it should be seen more as a utility. Similar to electricity or running water in a household, the internet is an essential part of a person’s livelihood. Many people from the left who represent mostly areas of the coast and large cities, represent areas that have and arguably require sufficient internet to function at it’s best. Regardless of the many sides and debates on net neutrality, it is clear that it is something that will only continue to become relevant. Technology continues to develop at a fast rate, and will also further implant itself into our livelihoods. As a result, it is important to really rethink and reflect on the internet. How can we manage and make this work the best way so that everyone can utilize this tool and further push humanity forward into the future?

Sources

Fung, B. (2017, August 30). Analysis: Your last chance to weigh in on net neutrality before the FCC rolls back its rules. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/apps/doc/A502342742/OVIC?u=csusf&xid=d803016e

Wu, T. (2017, April 28). A Phony Fix for Net Neutrality. New York Times, p. A31(L). Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/apps/doc/A490754095/OVIC?u=csusf&xid=74af046

Also read: Net Neutrality: Good for the Average Consumer?

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