In the dark of the night, in the shadows of Washington, D.C., in the deepest recesses of 445 12th St. SW, the freedom of the internet comes under fire from the Federal Communications Commission.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers and regulating governments have a moral duty to treat all data and internet users the same. It is vital in maintaining a free, open internet.
Internet service providers aim to get rid of it with the help of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon employee.
Pai was appointed as chairman by Donald Trump, and he has used his position to close investigations of internet service providers such as T-mobile, AT&T and Verizon.
The FCC’s assault on net neutrality has largely flown under the radar of most Americans. Campaigns for attention to it have failed to educate the average citizen of what the loss of net neutrality would mean for them. The FCC took their first official steps to dismantle the open internet regulations in May of 2017.
Ridding ourselves of net neutrality means opening ourselves up to an assault by our internet service providers, with little to no recourse.
We will be at the mercy of companies like Verizon and Comcast, now free to shed their skins and reveal the scaly backs of tiered internet and prioritized data.
Internet fast lanes will become available to those with the money to pay extra, widening the information gap between classes. Internet service providers will feel free to block information that may discredit their business practices or personal beliefs of their executives.
Pai argues that open internet regulations violate the free speech of internet service providers. But one thing should be abundantly clear: corporations are not people. Although they are made up of humans, they themselves have no inherent right to free speech. They are not alive, and their only true goal is to bring in money.
Allowing them the same freedoms given to people, living, breathing human beings, is allowing them to stomp on citizens to rake in as much revenue as possible with pointed talons and forked tongues.
The internet was meant to be open. It and everyone who uses it deserves to be untethered by predatory internet service providers looking to make a quick buck. Allowing them to throttle internet speeds also throttles the power to learn and educate.
Giving internet service providers free speech opens them up to block their customer’s free speech, picking and choosing what messages they want to get through.
Schools in wealthy areas will have access to shiny, racing broadband, while schools in poor areas will suffer the consequences of being broke with snail-paced download speeds, forcing the continuation and widening of class differences. Inequality is the opposite of the internet’s main function as the great equalizer.
Dissolving net neutrality is essentially releasing an angry dragon on an unsuspecting village of people in straw huts.
The FCC has a moral obligation to protect American citizens from unfair business practices, but it seems to have forgotten that in favor of giving Pai’s corporate buddies a chance to grab a bigger slice of the pie.
Of course, what can we expect when corporations are allowed to share their pie with government officials?