Good Bye, Net Neutrality, Hello, Corporate Tyranny

Paying for websites is just not right

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Good Bye, Net Neutrality, Hello, Corporate Tyranny

Jack Fitzpatrick, Opinion Writer

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     I’m sorry, but this website is not included in your basic Internet package. Please enter your credit card number and pay five dollars to continue.

   Well, not yet, anyway. Currently, the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, is obliged to prevent Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as Comcast and Verizon, from locking certain parts of the Internet behind paywalls. This is a concept known as Net Neutrality, and it is fundamental to the way we use the internet.

        The basic principle behind Net Neutrality is that ISPs have to treat all the data and websites on the Internet exactly the same. They are not allowed to lock certain websites behind paywalls, nor are they allowed to offer differently priced tiers of Internet speed to their customers. The legal protection of net neutrality, enacted by the Obama administration in 2015, is a necessity for Internet users in the United States, in which an overwhelming majority of Americans are serviced by four gigantic ISPs; AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable.  These companies have regional monopolies on Internet access throughout the country and without Net Neutrality they will be able to do whatever they want to people’s Internet connections throughout the world. Sadly, that world is on the verge of becoming a reality.

Ajit Pai, the current commissioner of the FCC under President Trump, is a former legal consultant for Verizon, one of America’s largest ISPs. He is vehemently anti-Net Neutrality, and has been trying to get rid of it since he took office. Last summer, he attempted to hold a vote to get rid of the Title Two protections that legally oblige the FCC to enforce Net Neutrality, but thanks to an immense volume of public comments, he failed.

    However, Pai is now attempting to hold yet another vote on December 14 of this year to try and get rid of these protections, and with the media coverage and public outrage over this second vote being much less prominent than that of last summer thanks to the Holiday season, it seems depressingly likely that Pai and the ISPs will win out, and Net Neutrality will disappear.

The destruction of Net Neutrality would be the end of the Internet as we know it in America, and will negatively impact the lives of every citizen in the country.  For example, if students want to use Google Drive to write an essay for an English teacher, but their ISP locked Google Drive behind a paywall, those students will have to pay extra money to write their essays, money their families may not have or would rather spend on other things. Kingsway High School would also need to foot this bill, and with the sorry state of our budget, it’s unlikely that the school would be able to afford a complete Internet for its students.

      This example holds true for every bit of Internet people use, including social media sites like Snapchat and Instagram as well as video sharing platforms like YouTube. With the limited internet traffic, this would cause, businesses will fail, livelihoods will be lost, and public ignorance will run rampant just so that a few Comcast executives can line their pockets with money they don’t need.

This is a bleak future, but it is one that  Americans through political action, can hopefully avoid. I strongly encourage all students and staff to visit https://www.battleforthenet.com/ , and follow their simple instructions to write and call representatives in Congress about the Net Neutrality issue.

    These sites also have more information about Net Neutrality in general, as well as the locations of key public protests that will be held throughout the nation on December 7. I would also encourage people to share this article with friends and family so that people everywhere can make sure that a free and open Internet will be available for everyone, forever.