Column by Wyatt R. Mineau
Special to the Beacon
As of the past three years, net neutrality has slowly but surely crept into the view of big businesses and become the latest target. Two weeks ago, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans to repeal the regulations and mandates relating to net neutrality. This would allow businesses and internet service providers to control the speed at which websites can be loaded or streamed.
This topic of net neutrality has been talked about a lot in the past three years, as it has been a subject of scrutiny for the Government and telecom companies like Comcast, who want nothing more than for it to go away. However, not much ground has been gained on this topic until this year, when Donald Trump began his presidency.
There have been multiple attempts to get rid of net neutrality or the rules set in place, but in a week’s time, it may be the last straw for the rules before companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon have almost complete control over the internet, and it isn’t a bright future ahead of us if they have their way.
At a glance, net neutrality seems very simplistic and almost silly to get worked up over, as it mostly focuses on download and upload speeds for websites. However, it’s a much bigger part of the internet as a whole as it means if net neutrality falls and Pai gets his way, ISPs like the three listed above will have complete control over what sites you can go to. This issue is complicated further by the fact that they already have very strong monopolies on the internet and broadband, leaving absolutely no room for change or newcomers, and what they say will be law.
Many people have spoken out against this turn of events, some 11 million, the majority being online companies such as Google. However, these actions may seem almost futile, as Pai has a guaranteed yes vote from the other two Republican members of the cabinet, with a majority against the two Democratic members.
Websites have hosted events where they willingly slowed down sites to show what the future will hold for them if this plan makes it through the FCC. While companies like Comcast do make claims such as not limiting broadband to “lawful” sites, it’s transparent how the internet experience will change for the worse if they get their way.
Before net neutrality laws were introduced by the Obama administration in 2012, there have been multiple accounts of companies like Comcast and Verizon secretly limiting bandwidth to certain sites or webpages, as well as the aforementioned grip they already have on broadband internet in most of the U.S.
If you want to take action against Pai and attempt to keep net neutrality standing, contacting your congressperson is the best action you can take. While it may seem like the future of net neutrality laws is sealed, nothing’s set in stone yet, and doing what you can to help is the best thing to do at a time like this. Internet is a part of life for millions of people, and losing the ability to freely surf the web without worrying about whether what you’re looking at is censored will be a huge loss for the United States, and a big hit to Freedom of Speech as we know it.