By Emily Wang
When I ask you to think of the ideal Internet, your mind probably immediately defaults to the image of a worldwide communication network brimming with speedy websites that can open with a single quick click. However, this idealized notion of the Internet can easily vanish with the repeal of one single protection: Net Neutrality.
This two-worded term, first coined in 2003 by a Columbia University media law professor, means exactly what it seems to describe: the right to be treated equally on the Internet. Sadly, the freedom of the Internet--a precious right that many take for granted--is at risk of being taken away. In fact, on December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to gut Net Neutrality protections, granting major companies the power to kill the open Internet.
Net Neutrality is the principle that all Internet service providers--AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, to name a few--must not discriminate on the Internet through speeding up, slowing down, or blocking any content their users attempt to access. Additionally, when put into action, this law would prevent Internet Service Providers (ISP) from creating “fast lanes” for those who pay them more money. These protections ensure that all Internet users receive equal access and treatment no matter which site they visit.
For most, the enforcement of these regulations seems like common sense. These protections may seem so obvious, so fundamental, so innate to the purpose of the Internet’s creation, that some may even wonder why they exist in the first place. Isn’t it given that all Internet users should be treated equally? In truth, the mere existence of these protections implies that these rights to the Internet have been violated in the past--when given too much power, many companies seek ways to expand their revenues through mistreating their customers. Take, for example, the well-known telecommunications company AT&T: In 2012, it was caught disabling access to FaceTime for users who did not pay for their expensive new data plans. No one should be mistreated simply because others paid more money, much less be forced to pay for something they cannot afford or do not need.
Net Neutrality is a basic protection that all Internet users have the right to receive; repealing this fundamental right signifies the deterioration of freedom in something designed to expand our freedom. Help preserve your ideal version of the Internet by preserving Net Neutrality.