In the last couple years, our freedom of the web has been substantially challenged by large internet service providers (ISPs). They seek to manipulate the principle of Net Neutrality which states that ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T should not be able to interfere and exploit the user's experience of the internet. Currently, they are prohibited from blocking or favoring websites through paid prioritization. Freedom of Speech is at stake here as we strive to protect our right to roam the web freely.
Millions of activists worked together in 2015 to demand that the FCC authorize protections of internet users through Title II of the Communications Act. Ever since these protections were put in place, lobbyists and members of Congress have worked to roll back the decision in 2015 as they introduced deceptive bills. The problem now is that Trump's recent renomination of former Verizon lawyer, Ajit Pai, as Federal Communications Commission Chairman was received with great support of the ISPs mentioned above. Pai claims to "connect all Americans with digital opportunity, foster innovation, protect consumers, promote public safety, and make the FCC more open and transparent to the American people" yet criticized the net neutrality rules that were implemented in 2015 and seeks to dismantle them.
Net neutrality is essential for education and economic and political freedoms, all of which are crucial to our democracy. The consequences of Pai and the ISPs getting their way are grand. It has become a trend in our country for a considerable amount of power to be centralized in too few hands. As a result, many communities will be negatively affected and be left in a position that will not allow them to fight back.
Entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups all rely on an open internet to thrive. The internet with net neutrality provides a level playing field where consumers freely choose which products and services they wish to see. If the protections of net neutrality were removed, the opportunity for ISPs to impose a fee for faster internet would arise and small businesses would be at a disadvantage. Wealthy companies would be able to pay the fee and as a result, consumers would be more likely to go to these websites. Innovation and competition would drastically decrease giving a tremendous amount of power to already large companies.
Political opportunities would also be at risk as ISPs would have the ability to block the voices of political opinions they disagree with. Candidates running for office would have an even more difficult time going against incumbents and therefore hurt the democratic process. Social activists would have a difficult time organizing people for injustices that are not being addressed. This sets a dangerous precedent as the future of the country is decided not by the people but by large companies that seek profit and power.
Now is the time to let our policy makers know our dissent and to urge them to protect our freedoms.