Net Neutrality

Stay social on Facebook, keep streaming on Netflix and keep researching on Google. Net neutrality is a principle that mandates Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to treat consumers fairly, free from bias and discrimination based on what websites they visit; censorship of sites based on personal interests is prohibited.

In this day and age, we use the Internet pervasively and are dependent on it, meaning that major service providers, such as Verizon and Comcast, have much more power. It’s more important than ever to keep Net Neutrality, as we ensure consumers are not being cheated on. For example, Netflix streaming speeds were purposely slowed down for Comcast users and specials deals were needed to reverse this effect. ISPs should not discriminate and aim to video streaming sites like this, because those sites themselves need to make a profit and without Net neutrality it would mean higher costs or more ads–both of which we dislike.

Now, what would restriction looks like?

For one, the absence of Net Neutrality is, essentially, equivalent to censorship. The power to censor allows internet providers to ban web pages that have negative information about themselves or ideas they do not support. As students, we constantly research any number of issues and rely on the Internet to inform ourselves; not having access to all available resources would burden us significantly- less access to media sites, less access to facts, and less access to what we want to know. In addition to surfing through the material that is approved for us, we would have second thoughts of the internet as untruthful or even credible. The last thing we need is internet providers deciding what is right or wrong for us to see.

And imagine a system that charges you based on website visitation; for example it might cost $10.99 for a small package that allows email and retail sites, but it may cost $109.99 for a premium package that includes Netflix, Facebook, and Google. ISPs would be able to exploit the high demand for these websites in order to drive a profit. We, as the consumers, would be forced to pay an arm and a leg for what should be guaranteed.

Admittedly, internet companies today charge us on the speed of the internet only and rightfully so, but it would be wrong to charge based on having access to certain websites.

Here at Walnut, we’re too often connected over Facebook, sharing videos over Youtube and streaming movies on Netflix, it would much harder and expensive without net neutrality. We need to take advantage of what four million Americans were able to accomplish by sending letters wishing for Net Neutrality and continue spreading awareness.

By Jeffrey Tran, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of FCC.gov

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