Net Neutrality

By Nicole Beaver

 

Net Neutrality is currently being threatened in the United States. According to New York Times, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has decided to repeal the Net Neutrality Rules. Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, is delivering a “sweeping proposal” against the Rules on Tuesday, November 28. If this is enacted, broadband providers who give consumers equal access to all internet content will be removed, which results in companies attaining even more power to ordain the public’s online experiences.

For those of us who are not tech savvy or don’t live in the United States, I’ll give a breakdown of what this could mean for the future. According to Investopedia, the FCC is an independent U.S. government regulatory agency that oversees all interstate and international communications. They maintain standards and consistency among ever-growing types of media and methods of communications, all while protecting the interests of both consumers and businesses. Basically, if there’s a show that gets a lot of complaints, they have the power to enforce censorship and, if it’s extreme, shut a program down completely.

Here’s where it gets cagey. The Net Neutrality Rules were passed by Obama back in 2015, which prohibited broadband providers from blocking, slowing down, or charging more for the delivery of certain internet content. The question is how this impacts Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality is, in simple terms, how the public is able to access content over the internet. The internet is, as of now, open to everyone. You can access whatever site you want and basically do whatever you want. One nice thing is that you also have a certain degree of anonymity on the internet that ultimately prevents companies from tracking your every movement. This isn’t to say that the system is perfect–in fact, internet anonymity can be very dangerous, but for now, it largely serves to benefit people.

If the FCC’s repeal of the Rules comes to pass, individuals in the United States will have not only have their privacy violated, but will also be privy to companies. The idea of what could happen boils down to an example a YouTuber by the name of Markiplier made in a blog video posted on November 21: “Now imagine…if these things come to pass, you go to YouTube one day and, instead of your videos, you’ll find this page that says, ‘we’re sorry, you haven’t paid for the Entertainment Package of your Internet Plan. Please pay five more dollars.’”

What this could mean for the United States is that internet information will have the potential to become completely regulated. This basically means that the FCC would be controlling exactly what you are able to see. For those who have read George Orwell’s 1984, the novel showed what could happen when media was controlled, which resulted in total control of what people were even able to think. It is a very dangerous concept and, however exaggerated the novel is compared to real life, the potential revision of the Rules erases a freedom we have as a Western society.

If the United States decides to enact this, Canada might not be too far behind. There would more than likely be a lot of pushback, but the fact that this flew under the radar up until a mere six days before the proposal is alarming. We, as a society, should maintain high levels of alertness when our freedom is threatened, even if it isn’t directly happening to us. I would urge all of us to show support for the United States as they fight back. The US was built on the concept of freedom, so why should such a massive part of modern day liberty be taken away?

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