Once again, net neutrality is in danger. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission revealed their plan to dismantle regulations that ensure equal access to the Internet, also known as net neutrality. If they manage to dismantle these regulations, the way we use Internet would change completely and for worse. With this, Internet service providers could charge customers for faster broadband access to certain websites. The balance would be unfair, especially for those who don’t have the means to pay providers the fee they ask for faster broadband access. The repercussions could be bad for both customers and the domain owners themselves. The only “winner” in this fight would be the providers who profit from the charges they enforce.
Access to the Internet is generally considered a basic human privilege and it should be treated that way; if companies decide to charge for faster access, they could be easily monopolize the Internet as well. Customers would go towards websites that load faster or they would have to pay more in order to get a decent loading speed for the website they might need. Most software companies have openly opposed this decision. According to Fortune, Google said in a statement that “the Internet should be competitive and open,” adding, “… that means no Internet access provider should block or degrade Internet traffic, nor should they sell ‘fast lanes’ that prioritize particular Internet services over others. These rules should apply regardless of whether you’re accessing the Internet using a cable connection, a wireless service or any other technology.”
However, Ajit Pai, successor of Tom Wheeler, the FCC chairman, argued the contrary. He believes that these regulations “inject uncertainty into a market now dominated by broadband” and that with less regulations in this area, the market growth would be beneficial.
Portugal is a visible example of how bad this decision is for customers, according to the LA Times. Portugal doesn’t have any law protecting net neutrality in any way. There, providers have manipulated their offerings at the expenses of their customers. One clear example that has surfaced is the Portuguese company MEO. This company offers the famous “tier” package that includes websites related to that tier. For example, they have a tier for video in which they include sites like YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo, etc. They charge their customers an additional $6 for each tier of faster access and data.
For us, as college students, the Internet plays a big role in our day-to-day routine, and if net neutrality changes we will be affected. There should be boundaries put in place for the greed companies have; this decision crosses it. It’s up to us to stop it before it gets worse. This could be the tip of the iceberg — really harmful iceberg.
So, what can we do to stop this?
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident, you can visit battleforthenet.com. There you can fill out basic information and they’ll send a letter to FCC in your name urging them to stop their plan. Additionally, you can attend one of the multiple protests which are being organized all around the country. Lastly, you can call your representative and let them know that you don’t support this decision and they should stop this plan from being executed.