Net neutrality is a fundamental right

December 7, 2017 — by Ryan Kim and Roland Shen

In 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made its first attempt to remove the nationally accepted freedom known as net neutrality. Now, net neutrality, which gives all internet users full freedom to browse the entirety of the web, is under attack once again — the fate of net neutrality will be determined on Dec. 14.

Net neutrality is a fundamental tenet of our modern democracy. In our everyday lives, we expect to be able to access whatever we want online, and to have no limits in what we want to view online.

In fact, the removal of net neutrality allows internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and AT&T to manage internet service speeds and fluctuate costs for any website they want.

That means ISPs technically would have the freedom to slow down internet speeds for online news networks like CNN to the point that it’s not viable for the average consumer to access the website, effectively censoring the press. This goes against the First Amendment, which ensures freedom of press and speech.

Removing net neutrality has more than just domestic implications. Since U.S. internet services have such command over internet services all over the world, the removal of net neutrality in the U.S. can allow large providers like Comcast to raise prices on accessing services like Netflix, thereby raising prices for Netflix users across the globe.

Net neutrality is essentially an implicit extension of the First Amendment that offers freedom to ideas and information necessary for progress in the Information Era.

It is not in the average consumer’s best interests — nor that of the average business — if net neutrality is removed, no matter what the FCC claims.

The current FCC chairman, Ajit V. Pai, is an ex-Verizon lawyer, and the current plan to repeal net neutrality would heavily benefit ISPs like Verizon. Although it may be a stretch to conclude conflict of interest without explicit evidence, it should be noted how much the FCC disregards the common American in exchange for “competition” among ISPs.

We’re in an undisputably difficult spot right now. People have a right to be angry, but their anger should be expressed meaningfully. Online campaigns such as Battle for the Net encourage all U.S. citizens to call their local congressmen and urge them to demand the proposal to be repealed. This is one among many steps we can take to voice our opinion.

We can’t allow corporate interests to trump those of our democracy, and we certainly cannot sit idly by, hoping that someone else will fix our problems for us. These are our rights being threatened, and it is our way of life that is in jeopardy; this is our time to fight for net neutrality.