Why America Needs Net Neutrality

Alyssa Schaefers, Gaby Turner, and Nycole Hale

Everyday, Americans across the country go on the internet to visit their favorite social media platform, use their preferred search engine and visit small online businesses. They have come to see the internet as an innovative, free-thinking place where people can express their opinions but also create art, do research, connect to others, and even shop. This internet that Americans know and love is in danger.

On Dec. 12 Congress is voting on whether or not they want to move forward with repealing net neutrality. This idea was proposed by new Federal Communications Commission Chairman and former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai.

The Title II net neutrality classification, which was first implemented in 2015, applies the “common carrier” rules to the internet, preserving its freedom and openness. Net neutrality prevents internet service providers (ISP) like Comcast, Verizon or AT&T from blocking certain content from their consumers because they disagree with the content, are paid by a competitor, or want consumers to pay more for certain websites.

Without net neutrality, ISPs will be able to block or slow down certain content, prioritize some websites over others, force small businesses to pay more money to reach customers, increase the price for internet, limit access to it and destroy free speech on the world wide web. 

This is how Comcast internet packages will change if net neutrality is repealed. Photo via Forbes.

Those who agree with the repeal say that net neutrality interferes with competition, stunting innovation and growth and improves business for ISPs which is better for the economy. Former chief economist of the FCC, Michael Katz is one of the supporters of the repeal.

“Low income families who are happy with basic, slower internet would be winners from the end of net neutrality,” said Katz, according to Dan Kopf’s Quartz article. 

He believes that the basic, low-cost option would encourage more households to buy in, bringing in more revenue for internet providers and content makers, but there is no evidence of that working. Small business cannot compete with internet giants like Google and Amazon. Small business rely on net neutrality to protect them. The American Sustainable Business Council, along with other small business groups, published an open letter directed to the FCC defending Title II.

“The open internet has made it possible for us to rely on a free market where each of us has the chance to bring our best business ideas to the world without interference or seeking permission from any gatekeeper first,” wrote the American Sustainable Business Council, in Tiffany Hsu’s New York Times article.

Innovation will not just be affected though. Many people use the internet to connect to others, especially minorities. The internet is a diverse place where those from the LGBTQ+ community and different ethnicities and races can discuss issues, spread awareness of their culture, and support one another. If net neutrality is repealed, it will be harder to access social media websites that allow for this communication because they may become an additional expenditure. It would be taking away one of the best aspects of the internet.

Net neutrality allows for equal access to the internet. This equal access created a community of small business and people alike, causing the spread of information and a safe space for innovation. Americans fought for net neutrality before, and it is time to fight again.

Visit www.battleforthenet.com to send a letter to Congress. Call Congress and tell them that you support the Title II net neutrality rules and want your representatives to oppose the repeal. Call the FCC at 1-888-225-5322 and enter a complaint about 17-108, the net neutrality repeal. Write a comment on the FCC’s website about restoring internet freedom by visiting www.gofccyourself.com. Attend a protest for net neutrality, or spread awareness to your friends and family.

Locations where protests defending net neutrality are scheduled. Photo via Commondreams