Why we need net neutrality

How the government is trying to ruin the internet.


Credit: Software Engineering Daily

by Faith Andrews-O'Neal, Writer

Like the vast majority of people I know, I love the internet. I love binge-watching shows on Netflix, scrolling through Twitter and even catching up on recent news. I honestly can’t imagine my life without all of the media I have right at my fingertips. That’s what scares me so much about the upcoming net neutrality vote: everything I love about the internet is about to change, and definitely for the worse.

On December 14th, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on a repeal of the current net neutrality laws, which will change the internet as we know it.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘net neutrality’, I’ll give you a CliffsNotes version. Essentially, net neutrality protects consumers from big companies like AT&T from slowing down, or even blocking our favorite apps, websites or anything else we use the internet for. For conservatives who believe in “small government” and the people who profit from these extra charges, this is a win. It means that the government will not be able to restrict the actions of large internet companies as much as they’re able to currently. It also means way higher internet pricing, and no way to stop it. Imagine having to pay your internet bill, along with an added fee for Netflix and Hulu, then another fee for Twitter and Facebook, then yet another fee for sports networks. Without the current laws of net neutrality laws remaining the same, that is a totally plausible scenario.

Not only does this mean no more enjoyable media, but it limits the chance for people in unfortunate situations to share their stories. A lot of social activism is created by grassroots efforts, made by a few people with a need to create change. If you’re a person of color being treated unfairly in the workplace, or a woman trying to organize a rally, there is not often a large amount of money to access. Without the money to pay for people to view your content, many stories found on social media, or individually run blogs will go unread, and disregarded, even more so than they already are. Without the current net neutrality laws, large high-speed internet companies will have the right to block those websites if the views do not align with their own. The voices of the marginalized are already often stifled, and with net neutrality, that will be a reality for an even larger part of the population.

So, now that you know (and may be genuinely terrified like I am), what can you do? For starters, speak up! With everything happening in the world, it can be difficult for people to be aware of all of the decisions made on a national level, no matter how much they may impact them. If your friends have no idea what net neutrality is, break it down for them, or send them towards this wonderful blog (which I say in a totally unbiased way). Once you and your friends are all thoroughly enraged, go stick it to ‘the man’, which in this case is the FCC (whose contact info is right here). Tell them how you feel about the issue. If you, like me, are a bit uncomfortable on the phone, here’s a script to follow.  

We live in a digital age. We’ve grown up watching TV on our computers and knowing what our friends are doing via social media. All of that can easily be taken away if we aren’t willing to stand up against those trying to ruin net neutrality. Tell your friends, rant on a congressman’s voicemail (but productively so), and do whatever else you can to tell the FCC, and our government as a whole, that we need net neutrality, and will fight to keep it.