If you use the internet moderately frequently you’ve probably already heard of the net neutrality craze that has consumed websites worldwide. The users of major websites like Twitter and Reddit have led an aggressive campaign to bring attention to the threat of the FCC against our net neutrality. Most of us might already know about the issue and have already made a stand — to the rest, here’s an opportunity to understand what is going on and what you can do to help prevent it from being taken away.
So what exactly is net neutrality? In short, it’s federal policy that prevents internet providers from prioritizing certain websites or slowing down websites based on whether the site or the internet user has paid for certain privileges. It allows us to view and engage with any website on the internet without the risk of internet providers interfering in any way and at no extra cost. Sounds pretty straightforward and reasonable, right?
So why exactly is it being threatened? Who would want to take away what seems like such a fundamental right to users of the internet like you and me? Well, obviously it’s the internet providers. The major pushers for net neutrality to be repealed are companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc. Without net neutrality, these companies can pick and choose which websites can be accessed instantly and which ones may take a little longer to load.
For example, in an America without net neutrality, Comcast can slow down a streaming service website like Netflix. From a business perspective, why wouldn’t they? Netflix is a direct and major competitor to Hulu, a company that Comcast owns 30 percent of. If Hulu thrives, then Comcast benefits and Hulu will do much better when it’s easier to access than the rest of its competitors.
It’s a pretty dangerous situation where your internet provider can pretty much control what you do and see on the Internet. Would you be willing to pay extra to access Netflix at the same speed as Hulu if Comcast offered a package to do so? Would Netflix have to pay Comcast money to prevent their speeds from being throttled so that they can keep up? It’s honestly scary.
In short, that is the threat of losing our net neutrality, which is a shame because we only just got it in 2015 under the Obama administration. The FCC under Trump’s pick, Ajit Pai, has put net neutrality in grave danger this year by proposing it to be repealed. It’s been a hot contest to keep it. Earlier in the summer many websites like Reddit, Twitter, Netflix, OKCupid and others held a massive online protest against it. The plan to repeal net neutrality will be voted on Dec. 14, so it’s up to us to convince our representatives to turn it down.
Senators Lee and Hatch have both shown their support to repeal net neutrality. Representatives Stewart and Bishop have also shown their support of it. Representatives Love and Curtis have not quite said whether they’ll vote for or against it. However, Curtis has expressed that he is not the biggest fan of FCC regulation and Love has stated that she is open to changes in net neutrality. Essentially, it is important that us U students who enjoy having internet without restrictions, that we contact our local representatives and express that as voters in their districts we firmly do not want to see net neutrality go away. Whether you live in Bountiful, West Valley, Sandy, downtown or on campus, it’s important that we call, email or visit our congressmen to let it be heard that the residents of Utah want a free and open Internet.