15 November 2016
Today 89% of Americans are on the internet, and with more people than ever online, net neutrality is becoming an increasingly important topic. Without protections in place to ensure fair bandwidth distribution to all people large internet service providers would be free to take advantage of the people who have become ever more dependent on it in the modern age. The issue of net neutrality has been debated quite fiercely in previous administrations, but as someone who quite enjoys video games and my internet access, I thought it best to give my opinion. The rules pertaining the broadcast of information of the internet as set by the Federal Communications Commission are as follows: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, and broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind (this rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates). Even though these are the current rules, there are a number of people and companies who try to contest the laws on the claims of providing better services to their customers, however letting ISPs self-regulate could lead to questionable practices that hurt American citizens.
There are several decent arguments and refutations against why the government shouldn’t interfere with the topic. Most of them boil down to this: there is typically more than one major ISP in an area, so competition between the two would ensure that all websites are accessible and speeds for all of these are competitive. If a company like Cox decided to start charging its users to use Netflix of slowing Netflix’s speeds since it uses a lot of bandwidth, people could just switch to another company. Those against net neutrality also cite that leaving decisions on the access to sites in the hands of the companies can help ensure certain internet users aren’t “hogging” all the bandwidth for themselves, and ISP can focus more bandwidth towards important services that depend on the internet such as medical monitoring or VIOPs. Freedom from internet neutrality would also allow websites to pay to have their sites accessed more quickly and reliably, benefiting both the website and the consumer.
However, we can look back in our history and see that leaving responsibility in the hands of these large corporations almost never works out. Without laws or legislation to regulate how ISPs distribute their bandwidth can lead to some deplorable situations for the consumer. Companies could outright deny access to sites that they don’t want customers to use (ex. another ISP’s website) or charge you for specific sites you visit or your different uses of the internet (ex. gaming or downloading files). Even worse ISPs would be open to make website exclusivity deals; for instance, you could maybe only watch YouTube if you had internet from Comcast. These practices could also hurt the website owners, since ISPs would be able to charge extra to have their data be transmitted faster, leaving smaller companies and start-ups behind while larger corporations have their websites load faster and more reliably hurting the American economy and ingenuity.
Overall, I believe net neutrality is fundamental to help small business and startups that will not only help fuel the economy, but also as our constitutional right to free speech. On a general note though, as of my writing this, I do not know who you are. However, as I sit down now at my computer, I can’t help but worry. I just sit and watch that clock tick down ever more slowly, and votes rise all the more quickly. I believe that this trepidation is shared by many, but with good reason. Today we decide our future, not for just for 4 or 8 years, but for decades later. What you do will carry more weight than you can possibly imagine. Every law, every program, every treaty you make will be felt short term, but it will be us and our children who will reap the fruits of your work or pay the price of your failures. If nothing else, remember this: you carry the weight of a nation on your back. Millions of youthful eyes eager for the future look to you. What will you leave them with? Will you leave them a country in shambles with a failing economy and a debt larger than people can count, or will you leave behind a prospering nation? A nation that we would be proud to call home.
James, Gattuso. "Net Neutrality Is More Harmful than Helpful." The Internet, edited by Jack Lasky, Greenhaven Press, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=false&displayGroupName=Viewpoints&currPage=&scanId=&query=&prodId=OVIC&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&mode=view&catId=&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010236264&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=&source=Bookmark&u=lafa43079&jsid=c829b1bb1dca89d972e7deced41914d7. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.
Lewenstein, Joel. "What Are the Strongest Arguments Against Net Neutrality." Quora, 13 Aug. 2010, www.quora.com/What-are-the-strongest-arguments-against-net-neutrality. Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.
"Net Neutrality." Public Knowledge, www.publicknowledge.org/issues/net-neutrality. Accessed 14 Nov. 2016.
"Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now." Save the Internet, Free Press, www.savetheinternet.com/net-neutrality-what-you-need-know-now. Accessed 14 Nov. 2016.
"Open Internet." Federal Communications Commission, www.fcc.gov/general/open-internet. Accessed 15 Nov. 2016.
Republic, The New. "The Government Should Support Internet Neutrality." Technology and society, edited by David Haugen and Susan Musser, Greenhaven Press, 2007. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=false&displayGroupName=Viewpoints&currPage=&scanId=&query=&prodId=OVIC&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&mode=view&catId=&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010234247&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=&source=Bookmark&u=lafa43079&jsid=ba1781011c614dc97d6ab94a2438e2ed. Accessed 14 Nov. 2016.
"United States Internet Users." Internet Live Stats, www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/us/. Accessed 15 Nov. 2016.