The Great American Robbery
The World Wide Web and its predecessor, the Internet is an eighties baby that has grown into a mammoth 4 billion+ of indexed web pages, which for better or worse has forever changed the way we live our lives. Like a thief in the night, The FCC ‘s (Federal Communications Commission) December 14th vote stripped back the Obama-Era Rule Net Neutrality rule that required service providers to treat web traffic equally. The move may leave us with slow-lanes that can be circumvented by EZ pass payers and manipulated by broadband providers for profit.
America has been an innovation superpower since Ben Franklin lit up our lives. Taxpayers subsidize much of the research and development that powers our cutting-edge innovation. The Internet is no exception. The building blocks for the Internet were created in the 1960’s by a group of pioneers working for the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency. They developed the first computer network known as ARPANET, which split up data so it could be sent it to its final destination via multiple pathways. The idea was expanded upon by a coalition of government and university groups in the 1980’s to create what is now known as the Internet.
Taxpayer’s money contributed to the creation of the Internet, so it stands to reason that we should all have equal access to it. Unfortunately, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who led the charge to repeal Net Neutrality isn’t in a sharing mood.
Net Neutrality was designed to prohibit broadband providers from blocking websites, slowing down the delivery of data or charging more for specific content. The government will no longer regulate high-speed Internet delivery like they do for phone service and other utilities. The major telecom companies have assured consumers that their online experience will remain the same. We are just going to have to take their word for it because the FCC’s vote paved the way for the telecom industry to potentially charge companies more to move digital content into the fast lane, a cost that will be passed onto the consumer. Additionally, providers can charge consumers a fee to gain access to certain sites, which means a night of Netflix and Chill might get pretty pricey.
The rollback of Net Neutrality has far-reaching consequences and the potential to stunt innovation and development that is reliant upon the Internet. Presently, the Internet is a level playing ground, offering start-ups and small business the chance to compete and innovate on a global scale. Abandoning Net Neutrality means that large corporations could pay a premium to slow down or even block competitor’s content- a prospect that goes against the very idea of promoting American innovation.
Net Neutrality is not a politically divisive issue. A poll by the University of Maryland’s program for public consultation shows that 80% of Americans are against the repeal of Net Neutrality. A finding that begs the question, is the Republican-led government of people, by the people and for the people?
If you believe Net Neutrality should be the law of the land, you can still make a difference. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to nullify actions by agencies like the FFC. It only requires a simple majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Don’t let this theft from the American people to go unanswered. Call your representatives (202- 225-3121) and tell them to keep the Internet Highway free and open to all.