Net Neutrality
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Politics and Activism

Net Neutrality

The Importance of an Open Internet

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality. Three years ago, we fought for net neutrality, and won. Now, the fight is resurfacing again. FCC chair Ajit Pai wants to roll back the Obama era ruling from the FCC that classified the ISPs as common carriers and end Net Neutrality.

What is Net Neutrality? Net Neutrality is the idea that all content that view on the Internet must be treated equally by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This means that ISPs cannot slow down the content of any website. All content you browse must be given equal It must. ISPs claim that a lack of net neutrality will allow them to provide faster internet for consumers, but what they do not tell you is what happens to get you that faster internet. ISPs can throttle content from certain websites unless they pay fees, which can be exorbitant. If it wants to, Comcast, as a cable company, can decide to throttle content from competitors like Netflix and YouTube as well the content of much smaller sites. Websites like Netflix and YouTube may be able to afford those fees, but smaller websites cannot and could be forced out of the market.The ruling in 2015 was that ISPs were now characterized as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This means that they must treat all data as equal and provide the same speeds to all content, regardless of where it comes from, much like how the electric company cannot slow down your power. This ruling came from Tom Wheeler, who, despite being a former lobbyist for cable companies, decided to rule against them and rule in favor of a free and open internet.

I often hear anti-Net Neutrality advocates say that the government should not regulate the Internet. However, Net Neutrality is not the government regulating the Internet. It is the government regulating the ISPs to ensure that they can't decide what content is important to "fast track." The YouTube video you want to watch should be given the same treatment as a small forum discussing potatoes. The Internet cannot remain free if the ISPs are permitted to throttle and restrain certain content. They could just as easily slow down sites where people discuss ways to combat corporate lobbying, something the cable companies depend on in order for rulings to come in their favor.

Previous FCC chair Tom Wheeler, despite being a cable lobbyist, ruled in favor of a free and open internet. However, this was not done out of the goodness in his heart. This was done through the dedication and fighting spirit of the Internet coming together to fight for an open Internet. Go to the FCC website and speak up about the issue. We won this fight once before; we can win it again.

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