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Net Neutrality: The Future of the Internet

By Nicholas Pulliam; For the Clock
On December 4, 2017

Net Neutrality: The Future of the Internet 

Nicholas Pulliam

For the Clock 

Net Neutrality is doomed if we are silent” says Commissioner Mignon Clyburn of the FCC. She is one of the five commissioners who will be voting December 14 to decide whether or not the internet as we know it will stay the same.

Right now internet providers have to treat all the data online the same which means, that they can not speed preferred sites up, slow others down, or block anything that might be competition or hold opposing political beliefs. It is a freedom we enjoy thanks to Net Neutrality. But it is now in jeopardy thanks to the new Chairman of the FCC Ajit Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, and one of the companies that wants to repeal Net Neutrality.

The whole idea of Net Neutrality can be difficult to understand at first, since the basic rights we have has always been there. A channel on YouTube called The Humanist Report explains it very well. Imagine you are watching TV and you try to access a certain channel like HBO. Depending on your current TV package you may be able to get onto the channel without any issue. But if you do not have the right package the screen will say something along the lines of “This channel is not available with your current package.” Now imagine that happening when you try to get onto YouTube or Facebook. With Net Neutrality that is not a concern for us, but if it is repealed in just a couple of weeks. That could very easily be our future.

Right now, our chances are not looking very good. The people who decide whether or not Net Neutrality will remain are the five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission, an independent government agency that is responsible for “regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states” according to their own site. That is a huge responsibility and because of that they hold a lot of power over what we can see.

In early 2017, Ajit Pai was appointed as Chairman of the FCC and he is made it very clear that he hopes to repeal Net Neutrality because it apparently stifles innovation and competition. That is a little hard to believe however, thanks to his past work with Verizon, one of the major corporations that wants to repeal Net Neutrality. The four other commissioners are split down the middle. On the side of repealing neutrality we have Michael O’Rielly and Brendan Carr. These two have an interesting history. O’Rielly has been quoted in the past saying “It is important to note that Internet access is not a necessity in the day-to-day lives of Americans and does not even come close to be considered a basic human right.” I think a lot of people would disagree with that. Then we have Brendan Carr, a former advisor to Pai, who was appointed to the FCC in August, just a few months after Pai became the Chairman.

On the side of maintaining Net Neutrality are Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenwarcel. Both have been outspoken advocates of Net Neutrality. Rosenwarcel even wrote an article titled “I’m on the FCC, Please Stop Us From Killing Net Neutrality.”

So we have three in favor of repeal and two opposed. It seems like the tables are set against us. Pai set the vote during the holiday season so that people would not notice what was happening but thankfully that did not work since the public outcry online has been massive.

Thousands online have been spreading the word of what is going to happen in December and so the public outcry has risen significantly. There are petitions now to help people express how opposed they are to the repeal and people have been calling local government officials to voice their anger with the FCC.

But will it be enough? Maybe not. Right now it does not seem like any of the three in favor of repeal are going to change their mind. They have hardly even addressed the issue. Pai has spoken about it to government officials and he has been on several news stations, but his response just has not been what people want to hear. It is not likely that he is going to change his mind or the minds of his colleagues just because the public is angry, because the public is not what he cares about.

All we can do really is continue to raise awareness of what is coming with the hope that we will eventually be loud enough to make a difference. 

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