Current Events: Net Neutrality

Stranger Things 3 just came out, and you have to watch it. You open your browser, go to Netflix, and bam––a message appears stating that your Internet Service Provider does not support this website. You can only go to it if you buy the Entertainment Pack at an additional cost to your plan. 

This is the internet without Net Neutrality. 

You might have heard of it; in 2015, the Obama Administration passed landmark legislation in favor of Net Neutrality, allowing all Americans open access to the internet without interference. Basically, Net Neutrality is internet free speech: with it, anyone is allowed to visit any website, for free, without an ISP stopping them, blocking them, or asking them to pay an extra fee. The internet with Net Neutrality is an internet that belongs to the people, instead of capitalist corporations. 

It feels ridiculous to talk about an internet that doesn’t have these features, to talk about an internet of which companies are able to pick and choose where we can and can’t go. But, unfortunately, that’s the reality we’ve come to. Last May, Ajit Pai, Trump’s FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman voted to overturn the 2015 ruling, and on December 14th (as in two days from now), the FCC will vote on whether or not to destroy Net Neutrality. 

It’s easy to be passive, to believe that others will do something. In psychological terms, this is referred to as the Bystander Effect–– individuals are less likely to help a person or cause because they believe that since other people are present, they will help. But if we’re all passive because we believe that someone else will step in, nothing will happen, and something needs to happen. If you’re still unsure how the destruction of Net Neutrality will affect you, let me break it down:

It will make life more expensive. Having to pay to view websites that your ISP does not support will jack up the cost of your internet. This is incredibly dangerous, because it plays into an classist society: by restricting the internet in this way, people who cannot afford to pay extra will lose their access to information and media. 

It will make life slower. Your ISP provider could choose to slow your connection to websites that it does not support, making everything grind to a halt. 

It will affect marginalized groups. POC, LGBTQ communities, religious minorities, and other marginalized groups rely on the internet in order to connect, come together, and fight against systematic oppression. Without Net Neutrality, companies could choose to openly discriminate against minorities by blocking the sites we use to connect. Without the open internet, the platform for social justice would cease to exist. People would not be able to come together. 

December 14th. That’s when the FCC votes, and you can make a difference––the legislation in 2015 passed in part because of the millions of activists who fought for it. You can be one of those activists. It takes about ten seconds. Send a letter to congress, sign this petition, or this petition, or even help break the internet on December 12th (that’s today!) for Net Neutrality by putting a banner on your Twitter, Tumblr, or website to get your audience to contact congress. It’s up to you to save the internet––for yourself, and for everyone. 

By Rachel Dohner

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