Bring It Back: As Internet users, students should push the reinstitution of net neutrality

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Raphael Li

On Dec. 14, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) voted to abolish net neutrality, taking away the internet’s classification as a “common carrier. Net neutrality, as mentioned in a previous HiLite perspective, is the law forcing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to treat all data equally, no matter what type. This ruling to repeal net neutrality makes the government have no control over what ISPs do with the internet, effectively allowing any ISP to block or slow down access to certain types of data. This repeal is a severe blow to the goal of freedom and free speech for Americans and needs to be discussed.

Supporters of the net neutrality repeal argue it will allow ISPs to increase capabilities, expanding their horizons and accelerating internet speeds for a larger number of users; however, the reasons why this is true are often overlooked. ISPs will enhance internet speeds at the cost of increasing prices for all their users. ISPs will gain the increased revenue they need to accelerate internet speeds based on the ability to charge for premium add-ons. ISPs can block access to certain websites and thereby force their users to pay a premium to access them at no cost to ISPs. Companies have little incentive to spend this extra revenue to increase internet speeds for their users. ISPs can just as easily make faster internet to keep the extra revenue to themselves.

Net neutrality has stopped many companies from abusing the internet. According to the Freepress, before net neutrality became a law in 2015, many companies were caught discriminating against certain types of data. For instance in 2012, AT&T threatened to disable FaceTime for iPhones unless their customers upgraded to a more expensive plan. After being implemented, the government regulated the internet and stopped many companies abusing their power over customers; however, as net neutrality no longer exists, companies are again allowed to require many customers to pay extra premiums for pre-existing features.

Even though it’s gone, there is a way to reinstate net neutrality. If congress decides to call a vote to cast a resolution of disapproval against the FCC’s removal of net neutrality, and receives majority vote in the senate, the FCC’s decision can be overturned and the internet can return to its previous state without the fear of being restricted. I urge you as fellow consumers of the internet to not stand by and witness the FCC’s teardown of the internet, but rather email your local representatives and tell them to stand up and support net neutrality. If we do not, we may never have the opportunity again.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Raphael Li at [email protected]

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