We must act to save net neutrality


Ryan Griffin

An infographic that explains why net neutrality should not be repealed. Without net neutrality, the internet will have many problems.

Imagine having to pay 10 dollars each time you watch Netflix, or that your internet is so slow that you have to wait 10 minutes for your item on Amazon to show up in your cart. These situations are a possible reality if the Federal Communications Commission votes to repeal net neutrality on Dec. 14. Removing net neutrality will cause the internet to downgrade in quality.

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers, like Comcast, must treat all data equally and not be able to discriminate against any user or website. Net neutrality was implemented in 2015 under former-president Barack Obama’s administration. Net neutrality must be preserved in order to keep a free and open internet.

The internet is filed under the Title II class of the Communications Act of 1934. This means that the U.S. government can regulate it. This means that the federal government can make sure that the Internet Service Providers(ISPs) are following the laws and not deceiving or harming consumers.

The main argument for the removal of net neutrality is that it stifles innovation and competition. This was even said by Ajit Pai, head of the FCC and the person who’s taking the charge on getting rid of net neutrality.

However, this argument is false. According to a study from Free Press, a consumer advocacy group, investments after the net neutrality rules were put in place went up by five percent from 2015 to 2017. This shows that there is no solid argument against net neutrality regarding decreased investment or economic stimulation.

Also, major corporations like Facebook, Google, and Amazon are all in favor of net neutrality. These companies are at the forefront of inventing new technology and have gotten large because of competition. If the argument made by pro-removal groups is true, then why do these companies want to keep net neutrality?

Net neutrality allows companies to have a chance to compete online. Imagine if Comcast made a service similar to Netflix. With net neutrality, those two services would have to compete to earn money. Without net neutrality, Comcast can shut off all data flow to Netflix and make it impossible to visit that website.

Now, this may seem like something that could never happen, but it is already happening in places where there is no net neutrality. In Portugal, customers of the telecommunications company MEO must pay for additional services after already paying for their plan. It costs an extra six dollars a month to use iMessage and FaceTime, an extra six dollars to use Spotify or Pandora, and an extra six dollars to use Netflix, in addition to many other costs.

Another reason why net neutrality must be kept is that without it, small businesses would not have a chance to survive. Currently, small companies’ websites are not restricted and anyone can visit them. If those current regulations are taken away, then internet service providers could cut off data flow to the websites of the small businesses, preventing competition and limiting  small business growth.

Net neutrality also prevents people from being discriminated against. If people feel like they are being targeted or that there is prejudice going on, then they can take to the internet to call for a change. Without net neutrality, the internet providers can shut off these people’s access to the internet and make sure no one can hear them.

For example, in 2007, Verizon blocked a pro-choice group from being able to message people. While some might disagree with the pro-choice movement, it is still easy to see that discrimination based off of beliefs is wrong, but could be a possibility without net neutrality.

Another example of unfair discrimination by ISPs occurred between 2011-2013. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all blocked Google Wallet because it was similar to another service that those three companies had helped to develop.

If these companies have the power to block whatever they want because they fear competition, then what stops them from blocking a movement against them or stops them from blocking a news article that shows they are doing bad things?

The internet is a daily part of our lives. We rely on the internet being fair in order to stay in constant communications with other people, as well as to stay informed, and to relax.

I urge everyone reading this to not stand idly by while the future of the internet is up in the air. Find your representative here, call them today, and tell them to stand up for you and not for the big ISPs. The internet is too important for us to lose or to be restricted by paywalls.

Ryan Griffin is a Perspectives Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.