OPINION: Net neutrality threatens consumer equality

By Anastasia Landeros

Net neutrality is an essential right for every American citizen and the internet should be held accountable to the same standards as free press or the right to bare arms.

The principle idea of net neutrality is that internet service providers  or the government cannot discriminate against, or charge differently for, the use of any internet content.

In other words, ISPs like Comcast or Charter cannot give special treatment to sites that pay for it or slow down service for content that doesn’t benefit them.

The internet is currently running under net neutrality rules.

Current Federal Communications Committee Chairman Ajit Pai, however, has made it clear he wants this to change.

Since taking the position of FCC chairman, Pai has been insistent that net neutrality should be regulated by the industry itself, ISPs, because current rules hinder competition.

In an interview with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood, Pai said that his rollback of net neutrality is for “Closing the digital divide, preserving the free and open internet, protecting consumers, promoting public safety.”

By getting rid of net neutrality, Pai would be getting rid of all the safeguards he said he would be putting in place by rescinding these rules.

The digital divide would be widened, not closed.

ISPs would now have the power to implement internet fast lanes and pay-per-play services so that the consumer pays for internet site packages, much like a cable package, so that certain websites can be accessed.

If a consumer cannot pay, they cannot access the same sites and content as fast, or at all.

A free and open internet would no longer exist.

If ISPs don’t approve of the content on certain sites, they can block it or slow down service so much that the user gives up and uses a site that loads faster, presumably one that profits the ISP in some way.

Consumer protection would be a thing of the past when the ISPs sole purpose is to turn a profit.

Since the internet is an essential part of life, especially for education and commerce, ISPs can charge what they want and the consumer has no choice but to pay.

As far as the promotion of public safety goes, only media literacy can help with that.

If the public is media literate, the burden of safety should fall on the public when it comes to accessing information over the internet.

Giving corporations the responsibility to keep the public safe on the internet would be as helpful as abstinence-only teaching in a community with high pregnancy rates.

Net neutrality is for “closing the digital divide, preserving the free and open internet, protecting consumers, promoting public safety,” not repeal.

Citizens have the power to stop these ISPs from taking over the internet by contacting representatives, members of congress, and the FCC.

Citizens should tell them that internet rules should remain as they are and that this current regulation should be made permanent.

The current rules were enacted in 2015 under former chair Tom Wheeler, and there is no good reason why they should be changed.

California Senator Kamala Harris has already given her statement for the preservation of net neutrality to the FCC.

“As a Senator, I will fight to protect the net neutrality rules.

“I intend to submit my comments to the FCC urging that it retain the net neutrality rules.

“I urge all Americans to add their voices to this important conversation.”

To add more voices to this conversation, visit www.savetheinternet.com or www.battleforthenet.com.   

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