Hi, hi! First off, for my post today, I would like to say that I’m not usually political unless it’s around very close friends and family. However, with the United States FCC (Federal Communications Commission) upcoming plan to end Net Neutrality, which goes up for FCC vote in early December, I feel this post is very important. If this were to pass, it would affect not only the United States of America but every other country as well.
What is it?
Net Neutrality means that ISPs (Internet Service Provider) and the governments have to regulate most of the internet without discrimination. This also means that they are not allowed to specifically charge users different rates for accessing content, websites, platforms, applications, means of communication, etc. So, ISPs are not allowed to block, slow down or charge money for access to specific websites and content.
There have been many instances of providers being caught restricting users access to things like that company’s rivals and throttling, which means it was being slowed, when users tried to use things like Netflix and YouTube.
What Getting Rid of Net Neutrality Means
The possibility of losing Net Neutrality means that ISPs would have the ability legally to block any websites or content that they don’t want their users to have access to, it would hurt competition because content and applications advertising an ISPs rival can easily be blocked, and the internet could even be split up into packages much like television packages. Basically, pay to access specific sites.
Why It Should Matter To You
Internet Service Providers could potentially be able to do all of the above which would already hurt competitors of companies, but when you really dig down and think about it, it can do so much worse.
Let’s toss aside the whole “internet packages” idea for a moment and just focus on ISPs blocking ability. Let’s say you’ve got an important paper due for University and you have already picked your topic but you need some info that you can only access online. If it’s something controversial or something your ISP doesn’t like, you won’t be able to access it.
Hurting students isn’t an arguement for keeping Net Neutrality that I’ve seen yet but just looking at all of the powers that this could potentially give ISPs, it seems very realistic.
Going back to the “internet packages” idea, another issue I foresee is that it would absolutely crush people who run any kind of business online. Take for instance; you work at a job, it’s enough to pay your bills but you can only afford one internet package and you opt to go with one that, say, lets you communicate with your family and friends but doesn’t include something like Etsy. Those people running things like Etsy shops would be out of a job quickly.
There’s already an unemployment issue in the United States. It’s gone down a lot in recent years, but take away the ability for people to be able to reach out and sell their products to anyone in the world and so many people would be out of a job. That idea doesn’t even apply solely to the US. I’ve seen many UK run Etsy shops while browsing the site. Take away their business from many Americans and those people have also lost out on income that they’ve worked hard for.
That’s just a smaller portion of it. Eventually it would start to affect singers and actors/actresses as well for the same reasons. People would stop listening to music because the streams would be slow or blocked and people would stop watching a lot of television and movies because things like Netflix would be throttled.
If an ISP is able to block things they dislike, that easily opens the pathway for companies to exercise an agenda and become a lot more involved and more manipulative politically than they already are.
The most important reason why it matters, however, is that it scraps the United States First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Restricting access to online content throws out freedom of speech and freedom of the press because if an ISP doesn’t like it, they just block it. It’s as simple as that. With the US being a country that thrives of patriotism and being a “free country”, allowing something like this to happen would quickly make this country oppressed.
Ways in which this could be used to infringe upon first amendment rights specifically could include things like allowing the government to control and silence political activism in non-violent ways. They would be able to do it quietly, behind closed doors with no one there to record what is going on. Even if someone were to do that, they could just block that as well.
It could be used to allow politicians with more power and money to hide the websites and articles that are pro their opponent as well as allowing them to be able to just hide any viewpoints or opinion articles that they don’t like or agree with.
There is already a monopoly on internet services as it is. In many places you can be limited to just a few choices and sometimes there is only one option for an ISP. Letting them have even more power would just be ludicrous.
What Can I Do About it?
Over and over I’ve heard:
I don’t need to vote. My vote doesn’t matter.
I don’t need to contact my representative, they don’t care anyway.
But here’s the thing, whether or not they care about a person or a person’s ideals specifically, they all care about THE VOTES! If a representative gets enough calls or emails telling them that the people they’re representing do not want them to get rid of Net Neutrality, they’re eventually going to listen because they want to keep their position. Piss enough people off and you get voted out.
This not only applies to your representatives but to organizations as well. If they are nagged enough they know that people are willing to fight back and it could also potentially compromise an organization or company’s ability to gain assistance or get what they want passed through congress.
So, what you can do as an American to stop this is to rally, spread the word, make phone calls or send emails to your representatives. Educate your friends and family on the issues and encourage them to do the same.
What you can do as a non-American is spread the word on social media, it will make its way to where it needs to be seen, if you have friends in America, show your concern and encourage them to contact their representatives.
If Net Neutrality gets voted out and these ideas are implemented, I could potentially lose contact with many of my overseas friends and that is NOT OKAY!
You can voice your opinion to the FCC at this number: 888-225-5322. So please, if you care about anything online like bloggers, youtubers, social media, your favorite artist, etc. Please take just a few minutes out of your day to make a call or send an e-mail. Thank you so much for sticking through this long post! If we all work together, we can save Net Neutrality!