By Dorian Rangel
The future of the Internet is bleak. Net Neutrality is gone and the Federal Communications Commission does not have the backbone to do what needs to be done to protect the future of a free and open Internet.
We all take the Internet for granted. Many of us have Netflix accounts or at least know someone who does. We all watch Youtube videos and we are all on some type of social network whether it be Instagram, Facebook or Google+.
A college student’s first resource when doing research is no longer books but Google. The tools we use to do our work are all moving to online models like Microsoft Office 365 and Google Drive.
These services have become part of our daily lives, but what most people don’t know is none of these would exist without Net Neutrality.
For people who don’t know, the Open Internet Rules (more commonly referred to as Net Neutrality) are set of rules and regulations set by the Federal Communications Commision upon Internet Service Providers like Time Warner Cable, Verizon and AT&T, that protect our internet freedoms.
What all these rules basically state is that ISP’s cannot slow down connections to services, block legal content or let companies pay ISPs for faster connection speeds to their services than their competitors.
An important thing to understand is that utilities like telephone and cable TV are categorized as common carriers which have their own set of rules and regulations, whereas ISPs are categorized as Information Service Providers. This is the reason why Net Neutrality is dead.
On January 14, in the case of Verizon vs. FCC the DC Circuit Court struck down the agencies Net Neutrality rules. The reason being, the court felt the FCC was attempting to treat ISPs as “common carriers” and regulate them that way.
The obvious thing to do would be to reclassify ISPs as “common carriers” that would be the end of it, but that is not what is going to happen. Instead current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing another revision.
What the FCC should do is stop acting afraid of these companies and protect us, the consumers, and reclassify IPSs as “common carriers.” ISPs are not information service providers, they are communication utilities just like the telephone company and should be regulated as such.
The Internet is not only used for private messaging but as a medium for expressing an individual’s message whether it be through video or a blog post. More importantly it has become a main source of news.
With the decline in print media and more news outlets moving to online-only models, having an Internet that is not controlled by large corporations is not only important to consumer interest but to our democracy.Without Net Neutrality free speech on the Internet is in danger.
If companies don’t like how one news outlet is covering a situation, they can block or slow down people from accessing the information, forcing people to turn to a different source.
Our ability to function as a democracy depends on people being able to read the news, make a decision and then vote on it. If companies get in the way then our ability to function as a democracy is gone.
It’s not hard to see a future where services like Netflix and Google search are no more and our only option is whatever service that is backed by your ISP. It’s not a leap to imagine a future where the news is limited and controlled by these companies.
The FCCs job is to protect consumers from the greed of these companies. They need to do the right thing by consumers, and reclassify ISPs as common carriers so they can prevent a future where companies control the Internet.