When we browse the web, we have certain expectations. Reasonable expectations that our internet providers won’t slow down our service based on what websites we choose to look at or that our internet provider won’t block certain content which doesn’t fit their political agenda or beliefs. Net Neutrality is the basic principle that all data on the internet must be treated the same by all internet providers. Net Neutrality provided the protection that internet providers may not charge differently by user, content, application, or method of communication via the internet. In other words, the internet was free and open to everyone without ridiculous regulations and premium prices. Net Neutrality protected the internet so it could be used freely as a medium for communication, as the internet was intended to be. It safeguarded our rights.
However, that’s no longer the case.
On December 14, 2017, the rules of the internet changed. 5 individuals on the Federal Communications Commission determined the fate of internet use for all Americans. With Net Neutrality being nothing more than a comforting, nostalgic thought of the past, telecommunication companies such as Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, and other providers, now have the power to control web content, traffic, and can now implement premium prices for certain internet servers and apps. These companies also have the power to censor certain content, thus potentially harming small businesses, business ventures, and ultimately violating our first amendment right to the freedom of speech and expression.
If the Net Neutrality repeal order is to be put in place within the coming weeks or months, one promising business venture which will possibly be hit hard, would be that of crypto currency. Most crypto currencies operate through a decentralized banking system, thus meaning that there is no single power determining the value of various crypto currencies, as the the Federal Reserve does with US Dollar. With crypto currency operating in this way, it gives the government no power to intervene or even to levy taxes on such currencies. Now if you’re wondering how this in any way connects with the repealing of Net Neutrality, sit tight as I explain how.
In the 2015-2016 Election Cycle, AT&T proudly ranked as the 3rd largest PAC contributor while Comcast Corporation ranked as the 12th. The total amount of money collected by federal candidates during this election cycle grossed almost $30 million just from the communications industry alone. Now this doesn’t even account for the money “donated” into Super PACs, but rather just the amount of money “donated” to specific individuals or parties through PACs. The amount of money in which a company or an individual can donate to a PAC is limited, whereas the amount donated to a Super PAC is unlimited. A donation to a Super PAC is technically different from a PAC for the reason that a donation to a Super PAC does not count as a direct donation to a candidate or party, but rather goes to an independent group which can choose to support or go against a specific candidate or party.
None the less, with this information, it should be clear that elected government officials do indeed have a special interest vested in appeasing the wants of these telecommunication companies, and vice versa. As the old saying goes, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”.
So now, even though it’s true that Congress has the authority to overturn the FCC’s decision, this doesn’t mean that they will. And while some critics argue that Net Neutrality was bad, and needed to be repealed simply because it was a regulation imposed by the government, these claims are somewhat senseless and just go to show a lack of awareness some people truly have about this issue. The Net Neutrality regulation was actually a regulation put on telecommunication companies in order to benefit and protect the consumer. Net Neutrality made the internet a free and open space for people to share and access information of one’s choosing, without any sort of interference. Now, with the repealing of Net Neutrality, this will actually greatly hurt the consumer and allow the telecommunication oligopoly an unscrupulous amount of power which will only continue to grow and squeeze out any competition.