We all love to watch Netflix, listen to Spotify, and browse Amazon for hours and hours; but what if your videos kept buffering, your songs kept freezing, and you weren’t allowed access to Amazon because your internet service provider does not support it? This nightmare that we couldn’t possibly wish upon even our most despised enemy may soon become a reality with the downfall of net neutrality.
Congress needs to pass the Congressional Review Act to reverse the FCC’s decision to keep net neutrality which will keep the online market competitive for companies, will keep the internet equally open for everyone, and will keep the customers from having to pay more. Without net neutrality, large companies will easily beat out smaller online companies, slowing the drive for innovation and competition, ultimately slowing down the whole market. Net neutrality keeps the internet equally accessible for everyone. Without net neutrality, internet service providers will be charging customers much more for their internet service. I may not be a congressman who can directly vote on the CRA to reverse net neutrality, however, I am part of a generation who uses the internet more than any other and sees how directly this can impact young adults and students in the future if this is not repealed. Before we can begin making an impact, we must first understand what net neutrality exactly is.
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. One of the most substantial issues that would occur if net neutrality no longer existed is seen from an economic standpoint where small businesses will not be able to pay the ISP’s enough money, so their websites won’t be supported or will be extremely slow. This will give them much less of a chance of competition, and can potentially ruin the entire company, especially if they are entirely web-based. In a 2012 article published in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, author An-Shou Cheng describes the internet with net neutrality as, “an open and competitive foundation for innovation” (Cheng). Without net neutrality, internet service providers will have free reign over what websites their customers can see, the speed at which they can access certain sites, and they will ultimately charge you more if you want more or faster access. Dan Barry stated in an article published in Santa Clara Computer and High-Technology Law Journal in 2008: “AT&T and Comcast generally oppose net neutrality rules and view the network as an investment…as they see fit to reap the greatest return” (Barry). Not only will they be charging more, but we can expect them to be slowing down our speeds too or even blocking certain websites.
Additionally, Shane Greenstein explains in an article published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives in 2016, “Internet service providers also might sign contracts to provide preferential treatment to the services or some content providers” (Greenstein). Now some may argue that it would be beneficial to get rid of net neutrality altogether such as Emily Roxberg who shares in an article published in the Journal of Corporation Law in 2011 that ending net neutrality is “A cost-effective solution to the increased traffic and congestion plaguing their [the ISPs] shared networks” (Roxberg). Although the FCC has already passed the bill to end net neutrality, it has not gone into effect yet, and Congress has the power to reverse it.
Congress has the power to implement a Congressional Review Act (CRA). This would allow for Congress to reverse regulatory actions within 60 days of the bill being enacted. Millions of Americans have attempted to persuade the FCC not to put this plan into action, but the bill still passed. The FCC may be able to ignore the petitions they received. However, they cannot ignore Congress. Congress holds the power to reverse the bill and reinstate net neutrality. For those of you who may still be on the fence or even do not fully grasp the impact that this can have on all Americans who pay for internet service, which is almost everyone, here is a visual that will show what life would be like if the bill is not reversed and net neutrality is abolished.
This is what you could be seeing when signing up for internet service. The base price as we can see starts at thirty dollars a month, and then if you want access to specific cites you love, you will have to pay extra. Adding up all the options shown here, the bill would be over eighty dollars per month and would grant the user access to all the sites and services listed. Right now, I pay fifty dollars per month, just over half of what this is suggesting, and I get access to any website, all at the same speed. So how does this make you feel? Angry that someone could even do this? Scared for what may happen in the future? Wondering how long you would survive if you went off the grid? These are all normal reactions to this topic; however, it does not have to be this way.
Right now, Congress holds to power to either reverse this or let it through. We may not be congressmen and women; however, we are the people who they are representing, and their job is to make the best decisions based on the interests of their people. Here is how we can all help: Go to www.battleforthenet.com. It is a website directly designed for writing to Congress. All you have to do it put in your name, email, address, and zip code and you can have your voice sent to Washington. If you don’t feel like writing a message, there is already a pre-written one that can be edited or wholly changed before sent off. Ionela Baltatescu points out very clearly in an article published in Knowledge Horizons Economics that “All internet traffic should be treated equally by the internet service providers not discriminating or charging different fees by user, content, site, platform, etc” (Baltatescu). We are the ones who use the internet, so we deserve a say in what happens to it. Write to Congress today so we can continue to binge watch Netflix at 2 am without constant buffering because we didn’t pay the extra $10 for that internet package.
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