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Net Neutrality: What It Is and Why It’s Important

Keisha Colon, Editor

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On December 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on whether or not they would repeal net neutrality protections. With a 3-2 vote, the answer was decided. Yes, they would.

Net neutrality is the law that requires Internet providers to allow equal access to all websites and information on the web. Providers cannot charge more for or block access of to certain sites because of Obama-era net neutrality laws. It’s true, we’ve always had net neutrality, but until 2015, it wasn’t always legally required, and before then, your Internet providers were sneaking around your back and dropping speeds and content as they pleased.

Companies like AT&T, Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon want to repeal these protections to charge high prices for poor services. Losing net neutrality is a violation of free speech and is a form of censorship, a direct attack on the poor, and many other things.

This might sound familiar to some. Back in 2012, AT&T restricted its iPhone users from using FaceTime unless they were connected to WiFi. That wasn’t their first offense, either. From 2007-09, they blocked Skype and other Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) sites. There are plenty of other cases similar to these.

Now, imagine opening up Instagram, Netflix, or Snapchat and having a pop-up prompt you to pay $9.99 to access this site. If net neutrality is repealed, this is the future we have to look forward to.

Prior to the voting, a record-breaking 22 million comments were received and the number continued to rise as the date got closer. However, despite this, the FCC decided to ignore the majority of comments unless it made a “serious legal argument.” The FCC claimed 1.3 million comments were faked, and 28 senators called on the FCC to delay the voting, citing their concerns that the forum may have been filled with fake comments to tip the balance in favor of the repeal.

The Internet then turned to a more direct approach, using sites like Battle for the Net and engines like ResistBot, which gave consumers the power to speak their mind by contacting the FCC directly or sending emails to US Representatives. The FCC members’ emails began circulating and people left voicemails on the FCC’s direct phone number saying their name, city, state, and that they oppose the repeal of net neutrality.

But the fight for the Internet isn’t over just yet, even if the recent vote says otherwise. After all, 83% of voters support net neutrality, regardless of their political party. A bill has just been introduced to Congress by Sean Patrick Maloney called the “Save Net Neutrality Act of 2017,” and the decision is now being taken to Congress through the Congressional Review Act. In addition to that, 16 states are currently suing the FCC to defend net neutrality. The list, in alphabetical order, includes:

  • California
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virgina
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Now, time is of the essence, but the war hasn’t been lost. The two women on the FCC panel who voted no to repealing net neutrality are Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn. The men who voted in favor of the repeal were President Trump’s appointed head, Ajit Pai, Mike O’Reilly, and Brendan Carr. Continue contacting your representatives!

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Net Neutrality: What It Is and Why It’s Important