Net Neutrality

What if a website wasn’t just slow because of Internet speeds, but the ISP themselves were slowing it down on purpose? That is the potential future of the Internet of the policy of Net Neutrality is not adopted. Net Neutrality has a long history which has inspired innovation, legal battles, and much more. To make sure the Internet remains open and free for innovation, Net Neutrality must be in place.

Net Neutrality, is the idea that ISPs “should treat all internet traffic equally” (Vox, year).  For example, an ISP such as Comcast cannot favor their own traffic, such as NBC’s website, over a competing platforms, such as Netflix. Data cannot be throttled, blocked, or affected in any way. As Heuvel states, this promotes an “equality of opportunity” for people who may otherwise not have a voice. A website with a different political viewpoint than an ISP cannot be affected to make people turn to a different source more in line with their views. However, there are certain players that want to ensure that Net Neutrality does not come to light.

Since Net Neutrality promotes services like Netflix and YouTube, which are not a revenue source for ISPs such as Comcast, it is obvious that they do not want to have to abide by any rules. If Comcast, who owns NBC, wanted to stop Netflix from growing more than it is today, they could slow down the service dramatically, causing more people to look for alternatives that are not being slowed down. For companies such as AT&T, who also have a landline phone service, it would be in their best interest to slow down services such as Skype, which is much cheaper and easier to use. Other opponents include politicians such as Ted Cruz, who has called it “Obamacare for the Internet.” (The Washington Post) This is a gross misunderstanding of Net Neutrality, as it does not change how companies price the Internet, merely how they treat data going across it. However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure the survival of Net Neutrality.

The FCC has already voted 3-2 in favor of Net Neutrality last month and President Obama is backing them, so their agencies do not need to be contacted. However, some congressmen such as Ted Cruz, are against the idea of Net Neutrality. However, consumers can express their support by contacting their senators and representatives is through both phone calls and emails. While they may not personally respond, they should be listening to their constituents. If they are taking money from the ISPs however, it might be more difficult to get them onboard. Consumers who do not know how to contact Congressional representatives, may work with organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Fight for The Future (FFTF). Both of these organizations have excellent track records when it comes to issues such as Net Neutrality and Government Surveillance. Once residential addresses are entered, the representative is automatically determined. When an issue is selected by a visitor to the website, it will automatically create an email to be sent to the Congressional representatives that a person’s region has. Together, Net Neutrality can be achieved.

Net Neutrality as a concept is very simple. All legal data going across the Internet must be treated equally by Internet Service Providers, regardless of its source. There are opponents to Net Neutrality, such as the ISPs themselves and politicians such as Ted Cruz. Fortunately, there are proponents as well, such as FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and President Obama. With a little help from organizations such as the EFF and FFTF, Net Neutrality is an obtainable strategy to preserve the Internet as we know it.

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