Before I start on explaining the situation and the vote done last week by the FCC, I suppose I need to answer what net neutrality is.
While talking with students the day of the vote, I noticed some confusion due to misunderstandings or misinterpretations, and one of the biggest culprits was Twitter.
Net Neutrality, instituted by the Obama administration in 2015, is the principle that Internet Service Providers treat all data on the Internet equally and not discriminate or charge differently by the user, website or application. This is the internet we know today: open, “free”, and available.
What some people did not understand was that Net Neutrality wasn’t what was going to make us pay $10/month for Snapchat or Instagram.
If Net Neutrality is repealed in Congress too, then we could have to pay an additional fee for our social media.
But this is not the main issue, of course. Even though paying for every social media or adding a couple dollars everytime you watch a movie on Netflix is very annoying and frustrating, the biggest problem is how net neutrality being repealed is violating the first amendment of the Constitution: the right to privacy online and freedom on the internet.
The repeal could allow big companies and the government to control what people see, write, post and even censure. This is a major step backward in the advancements this country has made. Private rights of citizens being taken away by the government is unbelievable for me as a French citizen.
I asked a couple of students what they thought about Net Neutrality and what they heard about it:
Grace Bunker, a freshman, heard about what was happening.
“I just know that they are going to make us pay for social media,” Bunker said. But she admitted she had “no idea why” this was happening.
She also said that it was not a good idea considering the fact that a lot of people use internet nowadays.
PeeJay Delos Santos, a senior, understood the fact that the Internet will be very different.
“There will be limits and restricts on how we use internet and stuff,” Delos Santos said. “But don’t think that it will be that big of a deal.”
Both of them were not fully informed about the situation. And this actually proves one of my point: they are not stupid, they are not lazy because they did not inform themselves about the situation. They just do not care. And it will a big problem in the future because the Internet not being as available anymore means even more people will not try to be informed.
However, as I interviewed junior Lauren Vizina, she seemed to know exactly what was going on and was very close to my point of view
“I know that it is a way to protect our freedom and give us independent rights about how we use social media and when we use social media” Vizina said.
I also asked her what was her opinion on Net Neutrality being repealed by the FCC.
“I think that if they take that away, they’re taking our rights for “that” (online freedom) away.”
She also explained me her reaction when she heard about it.
“When I heard about the FCC repealing Net Neutrality, I was very mad. They think they have the right to take our rights away from us, when they really don’t, since those are our rights as individuals. And I have texted resist like seven times”.
(A number has been instituted to let thAmericanan population react, where you can text “RESIST” in order show you are against the repealing).
It was not a surprise for me when I looked at the percentages of the people who were against net neutrality: 75% were republicans, and 9% were democrats.
Vizina added that it was not a surprise for her either when I showed her the graphs.
“Not be hating on Republicans, but they just don’t seem that they have our best interest in mind. They have big corporations, and it is going to help the corporations, but they also have to think about the American citizens and how many people it’s going to hurt.”
With internet becoming more expensive and less available, not only social medias will be touched, but education, sciences, research. Perhaps some words could even be banned from internet like transgender or abortion.
How are people going to be able to do research and learn about this if those words do not even show up online ?
Only time will tell us if net neutrality will be repealed for real, since it still has to go through congress.
I am not losing hope that it will not be repealed, and I hope for the United States that it will not because the power of this country will be endangered and in the worst case scenario, close itself totally to the world.
That is my personal point of view, and I respect everyone with another point of view.
By the way, the UK just made faster internet a right for every citizens.