Dear Future President,
From what started as a simple series of interconnected computers, the internet has grown into an expansive and essential aspect of daily life around the world. It’s utility is often taken for granted in spite of its vital role in modern commerce and communication. An important aspect of the internet that has only been growing in importance in the past few years is the idea of “net neutrality”. Net neutrality is defined as “the principle that the owners of broadband networks... that serve end users should treat all communications travelling over their networks alike” (Gattuso). Currently, the FCC’s open internet rules prevent ISPs from blocking, throttling, or prioritizing lawful internet traffic, preventing them from manipulating how the internet is used. However, as the internet matures, and its regulating agencies mature alongside it this could change in coming years. For all American citizens, net neutrality is of the utmost importance to be preserved because of the internet's vital role in access to information, its unparalleled equal economic opportunity, and its expansion of first amendment freedoms.
The internet has become one of the greatest resources for information in the world, if not the greatest. Anybody can simply go onto Google, and search for something, and in less than a second thousands of sites and databases containing relevant information are found, from all around the world. In a traditional library however, only what is available on the books filling the building can be accessed, and without help it can take hours to find relevant information, a stark contrast to simply going onto Google and having massive amounts of data in front of somebody. However, if net neutrality is not upheld this access to information is suddenly limited, internet service providers would be able to completely stop access to their consumers, anything that they please. For example, it would enable them to slow or stop a consumer from receiving data from news sites or blogs that are unfavorable to the ISP, or even those who don’t pay a fee to the ISP, similarly to that Netflix had paid Comcast to prevent their video data being throttled, or slowed down for Comcast customers (Fung). Charging for full speed access or forcing fees on websites only hampers the access of information over the internet.
Likewise, monetary compensation to ISPs hampers economic opportunity over the internet as well. The internet has become one of the most important conduits of economic activity in recent years. Amazon.com, a commonplace site to buy and sell, all over the internet had an income of over $500 million in 2015, and it all started over 20 years ago, over the internet. Today people from all over the world start businesses over the internet, seeking economic opportunity and profit. Almost all Americans would agree that economic opportunity is part of the foundation of this nation, and the internet fosters that. The white house recognizes the internet as “one of the greatest gifts our economy — and our society — has ever known” (The White House) due to that invaluable opportunity. However without net neutrality the internet would not provide that same opportunity to anybody going forward. ISPs could throttle up and coming websites that don’t pay a fee, limiting traffic to a snail's pace for all those unable or unwilling to pay, hampering economic opportunity without net neutrality. Beyond economic opportunity, even constitutional freedoms are influenced by the internet, and the principle of net neutrality.
The freedom of expression is guaranteed under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the first amendment in the Bill of Rights. It is an essential freedom to all American citizens, preventing government intervention in public discourse. However, the line should not be drawn for just the government, there is no reason that ISPs should be allowed to limit this freedom either. The internet is a conduit for information and communication between people and groups around the world. As such for it to be limited through getting rid of net neutrality “is not just a blow to consumer choice—it's a blow to democracy” (Republic). Net neutrality is essential to the extension of our constitutional freedoms over the internet.
The internet has been one of the greatest opportunities for Americans in recent times, and “unlocked possibilities we could just barely imagine a generation ago” (The White House). This has all been possible due to net neutrality, enabling “such incredible growth and innovation” (The White House). For all Americans going forward, even those yet to be born, it is essential that net neutrality is preserved, to grant the same economic opportunities going forward, preserving constitutional freedoms over the internet, and providing unparalleled access to information to all Americans.
From, Ben Yamada
Gattuso, James L. "Net Neutrality Is More Harmful than Helpful." The Internet. Ed. Jack Lasky. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from "Net Neutrality Rules: Still a Threat to Internet Freedom." Heritage.org. 2014.Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 9 Oct. 2016.
Republic, The New. "The Government Should Support Internet Neutrality." Techology and Society. Ed. David Haugen and Susan Musser. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2007. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from "Open Net." New Republic 234.24 (26 June 2006). Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 9 Oct. 2016.
The White House. "Net Neutrality." The White House, 26 Feb. 2015, www.whitehouse.gov/net-neutrality. Accessed 7 Oct. 2016.
"Open Internet." Federal Communications Commission, www.fcc.gov/general/open-internet. Accessed 9 Oct. 2016.
Fung, Brian. "Nobody knows what Netflix is actually paying Comcast. That’s a problem." The Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2014, w.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2014/02/25/nobody-knows-what-netflix-is-actually-paying-comcast-thats-a-problem/. Accessed 9 Oct. 2016.