In this file photo, locals from around the area work on computers at the Iowa City Public Library on Nov. 2, 2016. After winning a battle in 2015, Net neutrality is again under fire from Bit Telecom and, this time around, the Trump administration. (The Daily Iowan/Anthony Vazquez, File)

Webster: Net neutrality crucial to our democracy

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Net neutrality is being threatened by the current administration.

By Hannah Webster

hannah-webster@uiowa.edu

Living in 2017, it is apparent that the Internet has taken the world by storm, and it has a monumental effect on anyone and everything around us.

Nearly everyone is on the Internet, but what most Internet users are not aware of is Net neutrality. This is the principle that Internet providers enable access to all content and applications without favoring or blocking specific products or websites, regardless of the source. Once we click on Safari, or Chrome, or any platform to use the Internet, we automatically expect Net neutrality not only because we are used to it, but also because living in a country in which free speech is prized means that we assume this.

In 2015, activists targeted the Federal Communications Commission to adopt Net neutrality rules, and they won, forcing rules that would keep the Internet open and allow us users to be able to share and access any information that they could.

Except now, two years later, Net neutrality is in trouble big time. We deserve the right to communicate freely, but unfortunately for us, the Trump administration and the bigger phone and cable companies believe otherwise. Ajit Pai, President Trump’s FCC chairman, wants to get rid of Net neutrality altogether. And on Tuesday, Trump and his team endorsed Pai’s plan.

Companies such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are leading the charge, along with Trump and Pai, against Net neutrality because the providers could potentially have complete control over who is heard on the Internet and who is not by blocking content, apps, and websites. And that is what the big companies want. Without Net neutrality, the Internet could be changed into fast and slow lanes, changing the speed at which we access content, even preventing us from accessing content at all.

If the FCC destroys the Internet, we will lose privacy protections in that Internet service providers would not have to ask for customers’ consent before sharing or selling customers’ personal data. Without Net neutrality, the platform we use so regularly would be changed forever.

For example, if you wanted to send out an opinionated tweet in response to something related to politics, you might as well just march around with your message written on a picket sign. The rolling back of the 2015 Net neutrality rules will in essence stifle your voice, and Trump and his team should not have the option to do so. This problem is significant to people of all ages and even more for the future generation. This threat to Net neutrality pertains to everyone in that the free access to the Internet could be gone in a second. Furthermore, if this regulation on the Internet passes, what does this mean for the rest of our rights, and how do we know that the government won’t take away more freedoms down the road?

In 2015, there were 4 million people in support of Net neutrality, and that number can only be expected to be bigger now. Today, huge Internet companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter are active in the fight as well. We are fighting to secure our free speech and Internet access, and you should, too. We have the power to keep win this fight, again, and the Internet gods desperately need us.

I love the Internet, and I love being able to watch terrible America’s Got Talent auditions at my fingertips. Even more than that, I love being able to use the Internet to access information and news that is crucial for everyone to stay informed and participate in our society.

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