The Highlighter

Net Neutrality and You

Joshua Linsley and Dylan Buck

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Technology has evolved dramatically in recent years, making resources such as the internet vital to our everyday lives. Unfortunately, this resource is under a massive threat.

 

Recently, on many news outlets nationwide, there have been articles being ran regarding Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality, simply put, is the action and protection of all internet traffic and the allowance for it to be treated the same. This is able to be done because of the internet being classified under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 as a utility, which allows the FCC to regulate broadband internet providers. This classification occurred in 2015 when the FCC voted to reclassify broadband internet in order to prevent companies from acting in anti-consumer and monopolistic ways. Currently there is a vote on December 14th to either pass or deny rules that are aimed to weaken Net Neutrality. The following paragraph will provide one of many possible scenarios in which companies may act.

 

What it could mean to you

You are trying to access your favorite website, www.WhoKnowsWhat.com, but you did nothing to help the cause of net neutrality and now access to this site is denied Now you have to buy a internet package containing the website you want, but also 19 others you are not interested in. Now you have to pay $39.99 extra a month for your one favorite website. Now, when you attempt to  get on www.WhoKnowsWhat.com you might be unable to load the page due to internet speeds being so slow! www.WhoKnowsWhat.com also has to pay your Internet Service Provider (ISP*) several hundreds of dollars to avoid being thrown into the slow lane, and the internet speeds are still going to be awful unless they pay thousands for the fast lane! Now that you’ve finally gotten access to www.WhoKnowsWhat.com, the other 19 websites you can access are remaining untouched, you are paying forty dollars every month, the website owner is paying basically all they make to your ISP* and the internet is still slow, and the biggest kicker here is, none of this would have happened if you did something about it.

*ISP refers to Cox, Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, or any other internet provider.

One such example of unfair treatment of traffic was recorded four years ago. In an attempt to gain more revenue from Netflix, Comcast made a proposal to Netflix. In this proposal, Netflix was to provide Comcast with payment in order to provide smoother connections to allow Comcast customers to experience Netflix’s streaming service more smoothly. When Netflix refused to give into these demands, Comcast throttled, or reduced the speeds of Netflix’s internet traffic, effectively slowing the service to a crawl. Comcast only began to provide faster speeds when Netflix gave in to the demands. Actions like this are not only anti-consumer, they are the epitome of monopolistic. Internet service providers had the power to do this as they pleased until the reclassification of broadband internet under Title II in 2015. Should these rules set by the FCC be repealed, these actions from companies would not only resume, they would seemingly be promoted under the current administration.

 

So what might happen if you lose net neutrality? You may have to pay more for internet that is slower than what you have already, you might be limited to websites that the ISP you are under chooses for you in their packages available, and you might also have internet limits in which once you reach them, you will have to pay more for more internet data or just wait until the next cycle (often on the 16th, 25th, or 30th. May vary depending on the ISP) before you can access those websites. For website owners, net neutrality is their only defense, as without it, ISPs can literally bully them into paying hundreds. When it’s gone, website owners will have to pay hundreds to stay in the fast-lane or even in between, and ISPs can even charge them to stay in website packages, which will inevitably force website owners to charge more for their services.

So what can you do? Battle For The Net ( http://www.battleforthenet.com ) is a website which has all the info not covered in this article, as well as the feature of contacting a senator or a representative. If you are reading this online, save the link. If you are reading this on paper, write this down on your own paper or on your phone. The easiest way to do something about net neutrality is to contact your Congressman or Congresswoman about net neutrality and share your opinion, hopefully convincing them to join the cause. Please do not talk to a friend and say you did your part, walk near the protest and say you did your part, or contract Congress and say you did your part. Please join the fight for the free internet, as without it, the very way we live our lives could change for the foreseeable future.

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Net Neutrality and You