By Tanim Woodruff
For many of us here at Skyline, the Internet is an integral part of our lives. It’s how we get our news, catch up, and talk with our friends, and send weird pictures of dog faces plastered over our real faces in order. make each other laugh. Soon, though, you’ll likely have to pay for access to websites you enjoy freely now, and have to wait 15 minutes for a video to buffer unless you pay even more for “faster” streaming. If this sounds bad, now it gets worse, because everyone’s “favorite” president Donald Trump is to blame, along with giant telecommunications companies like Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner
So what does this have to do with your access to large amounts of cat videos at a moment’s notice? Well, the problem is the elimination, on December 14, of government commitments to protect a concept called “net neutrality,” which basically means that all those who access the web have equal opportunity to use it. The members of the Federal Communications Commission, which is part of the U.S. government but also supposed to be somewhat independent from it, voted 3-2 to allow “internet service providers” like Comcast to start “blocking and throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes,” according to TheVerge.com.
“The only real rule is that they have to publicly state that they’re going to do it.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai just happens to be an former associate general counsel for Verizon, one of the companies wanting to end net neutrality so it can charge more money for the access you currently enjoy.
The FCC regulates all radio, television and other communications technologies, including the Internet. The five members are appointed by presidents, but a maximum of three can be from the same political party; the current president appoints the chairman of the commission.
Usually Americans only think about the FCC when they censor something, like the “7 dirty words” you can’t say on terrestrial radio airwaves. (For more ways of knowing what they censor, just watch the Family Guy episode PeteTV, where Peter sings a whole showtoon on them.)
Now, because of three FCC commissioners, the whole country may soon have to pay extra fees on your internet bill just to access sites like Youtube, Netflix, and other sites too adult to state here. Many parents won’t pay the extra fee for you, so you will lose access to those sites.
They will also slow down your upload and download speeds if you have their “general” package, but for an extra charge, say $15, you can get access to their better “faster” internet.
In some other countries, a lack of net neutrality means that consumers are forced to pay fees for each thing on the web you want to see, including even particular news or entertainment websites.
The argument against net neutrality is crazy. They say we can trust companies, and the “free market,” to protect consumers, and that they only want to prevent “overbearing” government regulations. They also say that the internet is worse now, because it is impossible for “competitive” selling of access to it.
However, what is left aside is that the customers, for the most part, don’t have many choices — the biggest companies have a chokehold on how you access the web through mobile or cable.
All these arguments all just say, “WE WANT MORE MONEY SO WE ARE GOING TO DESTROY THE INTERNET TO GET IT.” We must stop this from happening, so there are a few things we can do:
1. Call (888) 225-5322; this is the phone number of the complaint services of the FCC — if we call complaining and asking them to stop this madness, it might work.
2. If we do lose net neutrality we need to protest, just like after the election. Look up local protests online and join.
Maybe if enough fight back we might get to keep the internet the lovely home of cat videos and dank memes, safe and free to access when you need it.