By Ella Lee
Today, the Federal Communications Commission, described on its website as “an independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress responsible for implementing and enforcing America’s communications law and regulations,” will vote on Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality must be protected at all costs.
Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.
Losing Net Neutrality would mean losing access to a free, open Internet. Providers such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T would be given the freedom to block, slow down, or limit use to websites that have been run freely until now; cable and phone companies would be able to decide which websites or companies succeed. New companies might never have the chance to get a start.
“Net Neutrality lowers the barriers of entry by preserving the Internet’s fair and level playing field. It’s because of Net Neutrality that small businesses and entrepreneurs have been able to thrive online,” writes SaveTheInternet.com. “Without Net Neutrality, the next Google or Facebook would never get off the ground.”
On top of that, many sites we now have access to for free would become package deals, making the Internet widely unaffordable for many people. Net Neutrality is the reason that paying one cumulative fee for Internet service provides us with access to sites such as Google, social media, email, and more.
An Internet without Net Neutrality would have many consequences. Here are some potential outcomes: messaging services — iMessage, Skype, FaceTime — for $4.99 a month; social media — Instagram, Twitter, Facebook — for $6.99; email and cloud access — Gmail, Amazon, Google Drive — for $9.99; and more. The Internet could become unrealistically unaffordable nearly instantly with the votes of the five people on the FCC taking place today.
As a generation that has had Internet at our fingertips for as long as we can remember, losing Net Neutrality would change the way we live our daily lives. You would no longer be able to quickly Google that word you don’t understand in your readings. Having every social media would be financially unrealistic. Finding jobs online would become more difficult, and holding freelance jobs online would become nearly impossible.
The vote happens today, but it’s not too late to make a difference. Text Congress (424-363-4877), call the head of the FCC (202-418-1000), sign a petition, or email your representatives. Any action is better than no action.