Why Net Neutrality Matters


On the 14th of December, the Federal Communications Commision, under the leadership of Ajit Pai, will be voting on the Restore Internet Freedom Act- allegedly to free the internet. Ironically, however, the bill does not give freedom to internet users. Not at all. What the Restore Internet Freedom act actually does is leave us, Americans users of the internet, completely defenceless. It does not matter if you are a teacher, maintenance worker, student, or anything else. The FCC is attacking the Net Neutrality laws let you use the internet however you want.

Since its creation, the internet was intended to be a place where businesses can compete based on the value of their products alone and people can discuss and participate in any community they like- it does not matter what your political affiliation is, where you are from, or whether you prefer Netflix or Hulu. This principle is protected by a concept commonly referred to as Net Neutrality. However, since it’s inception Internet Service Providers have tried to undermine Net Neutrality. For example, in 2011 T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon coordinated to block Google Wallet on mobile devices so that they force users to use a competing app they had invested in, Isis. This was allowed because the original Net Neutrality rules were not strict enough, but it could have gotten much, much worse if not for the reinforcement it got in 2015.

Verizon attempted to do away with Net Neutrality almost entirely in 2011. They envisioned a world we pay for internet packages separately like we do for cable TV. Their basic plan might offer Facebook and Instagram at a reduced speed, but to get the same speed you had before would be part of a special package that they can charge as much as they want for. The same could be true for games, Netflix, educational websites, and more. This is the world that could be possible now if the FCC decides to repeal Net Neutrality.

Though some like to spin Net Neutrality as an unnecessary government regulation hurting business, all the evidence shows the opposite- Net Neutrality not only protects the consumer but ensures competition. Net Neutrality keeps Comcast from forcing Netflix to pay extra to get to its customers like it did in 2013. If Comcast was allowed to allocate its internet to whatever company paid the most, small businesses would be completely crushed because no one would ever be able to get to their websites quickly.

Another problem with the idea that Net Neutrality is an unnecessary regulation is the lack of competition among ISPs. 61%- that means 197 million people- only have the choice of one standard speed internet provider. That means that Comcast does not have to worry about competing with AT&T or Verizon. They can freely divide up the customer base however they want.

That does not mean, however, that you can not do anything about this. Though the FCC vote is tomorrow at the time of writing this, Congressional representatives can still help protect real internet freedom- not the FCC’s idea of it- by passing a bill restricting the FCC’s power to change Net Neutrality laws. I encourage you to write your Congressmen, not just about this topic, but any issue that you are strongly passionate about. The only way to get change is to make your voice heard. Start by making sure Corporate can not silence you, and protect Net Neutrality.

*This opinion piece does not reflect the views of the entire CCES community, nor the CCES journalism staff. This is the product of one individual sharing their thoughts. This is not intended to be offensive to any individual or group.