The Courier

Net Neutrality Repeal: The internet as we know it may be coming to an end

Kimberly Wilson, Opinion Editor

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Break out the Eggos because Netflix’s uber popular hit ‘Stranger Things’ has been renewed for a third season! The excitement is palpable as you count down the months until you can return to Hawkins. That is, until find out your internet service provider just launched their own streaming service and slowed the speed on Netflix down so much, everything on it is basically unwatchable. That could be our new reality if and when the Federal Communications Commision (FCC) votes to remove net neutrality. The move could very well turn the internet we know and love upside down.

In perhaps the simplest of terms, net neutrality is described by Allison Shapiro in an article posted on the Daily-Journal’s website as “the idea that internet service providers — the largest are Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Charter — must treat all websites equally. It’s a cliche at this point to imagine the internet as a highway, but think of net neutrality in practice as enforcing a speed limit, preventing ISPs from fast tracking certain websites and slowing speeds on others.”

It’s easy to see how ending net neutrality could have a negative effect on the way we use the internet. ISPs would control the information presented online. Without net neutrality, small businesses could suffer, and freedom of speech could be threatened. If businesses and/or websites interests don’t align with that of large ISPs, they could restrict or even outright block users from accessing their content.

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, has hit back against complaints of the repeal.

“The FCC would still require transparency,” Pai said, in an article on npr.org. “Any business practice that would affect the offering of a service has to be disclosed to the consumers, and entrepreneurs can understand exactly how these businesses are operated.”

That statement doesn’t address one of the biggest problems with letting Comcast and others become the gatekeepers to the internet. Pai is implying that if consumers know which companies won’t offer certain services, they can simply sign up with another ISP that has all the services they desire. However, all the internet service providers in America aren’t available in every single community. Many people only have one option to access the internet.

That explanation also doesn’t cut it for businesses. Just because a business might know which ISPs they would have a hard time growing with, doesn’t mean it automatically wouldn’t or couldn’t affect their company.      

Right now we have the ability to access whatever we want on the internet without much restriction. Why make it so that only certain ISPs can give us certain information? It just doesn’t make sense.

Despite heavy consumer backlash,, it appears the FCC may vote to end net neutrality. In that case, we believe there should at least be places where we can access unbiased internet like public libraries and schools.

The internet is known today as a primary destination to attain an endless supply of information. Getting rid of net neutrality could ultimately mean limiting the information you can receive on the internet. Making it more difficult to find unfiltered, unbiased information appears to be a move that would benefit large ISPs and the government a lot more that it would consumers.     

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Net Neutrality Repeal: The internet as we know it may be coming to an end