Having a free and open internet is something that American citizens have grown to expect and rely on. We use it every day, whether it’s browsing the news, streaming the latest show, or playing video games. A neutral net has been consistently in place in the US because everyone should have a right to have a free, neutral internet– right? Under the Trump administration, FCC chairman Ajit Pai plans to repeal Net Neutrality.
With this, the topic has been gaining attention in recent weeks, yet many don’t even know what it is. Net Neutrality, essentially, makes sure that internet service providers aren’t able to speed up, slow down, or block any websites or applications that you use. It preserves our right to speak freely online and access the entirety of the internet. If Net Neutrality were to be repealed, ISPs would have the ability to control what consumers view; if an ISP were to decide that they did not want their customers to view a certain website, they could block it. This eliminates free speech on the Internet and gives providers total control over what their customers can or cannot browse.
One example of the nightmare that no net neutrality creates is Portugal. Mobile carrier Meo offers packages of websites and apps that customers can use, but only if they buy the package. For example, if someone wanted to use Snapchat, they would have to pay for the Social Package. If they wanted Netflix, they would have to purchase the Video Package. If these packages aren’t purchased, the customer cannot access these sites. Instead of one plan that allows consumers to use the net as they wish, ISPs are able to split these up into bundles that limit what can and cannot be viewed.
Net Neutrality preserves the right of free speech online. Why should this right not always apply? American citizens expect to have that freedom extended online, and losing this right on the platform that allows for the most widespread communication is unjust. Under the Obama administration, the FCC was pressured to preserve Net Neutrality, but Chairman Pai’s plan to repeal it is a serious danger to the free net. Americans must know about the necessity for net neutrality in this day and age– without it, true free speech and expression cannot exist online.