Posted April 10, 2014 by Cooper Point Journal in Letters & Opinion
 
 

Net Neutrality Now

RUBY THOMPSON

RUBY THOMPSON

BY SERENA IMANI KORN

Internet neutrality is a big deal. I’ve only recently been able to really wrap my head around it. Now that I’ve cut through the complexity of the issue, I understand the severity and importance of Internet regulation. We have the position now to voice our concerns about net neutrality and do what we can to enact a change. We have that power – we just have to use it.

Internet service providers want to be able to manage their networks as they want. They want to be able to charge content providers more money for direct, reliable lines to consumers. The Federal Communications Commission believes that allowing web corporations to manage networks like this will tip the scales in favor of wealthy corporations. For once, I side with the FCC.

Corporations have really no obligation to serve all people equally. For corporations, it’s all about the bottom line and not much else. That’s why I generally believe in government regulation. I think the government is better equipped than corporations to regulate our services, especially services we depend on. The government has more of a duty to the people than corporations. (Not to say that the government is well equipped to serve the people—just better than corporations).

The Internet is a public utility. It was more of a luxury and non-necessity two decades ago, but today we depend almost entirely upon the Internet. We need to regulate the Internet like we do telephones and electricity. The FCC has the legal right to reclassify the Internet from an information service to a telecommunications service. This would allow them to regulate the net as a public utility.

Because the Internet is such a necessity, all people need to be able to fairly access it. Corporations, time and time again, have proved that they are not good at providing equality. The government is also not well known for equal treatment, but in terms of regulating services, they are better than corporations. We, as a people, also have more power to keep the government in check than we do corporations.

The 1996 Telecommunications Act cut restrictions that limited the number of media outlets corporations could own. Only a handful of conglomerates now control the majority of our media. Those that control the media control the information we get, and that can control public opinion and the decisions we make independently or as a whole.

What is happening now with net neutrality is the same thing that happened with media deregulation in the ‘90s. With courts obliterating net neutrality and not allowing regulation of service providers, even more media is being deregulated and more power given to corporations to control the information we have access to.

The best thing about the Internet is our ability to access and create pretty much any kind of content. People with small voices and corporations with large voices can both produce online content. As it is now, we can’t necessarily access that content the same, due to advertising and search engine configurations. But it’s there.

Allowing content providers to pay more for better network connections with consumers could cause problems for other content. The richest content providers will be able to buy up all the best bandwidth and the non-wealthy content will be crushed and damaged. Not only is that not fair, but it encroaches on our freedom of speech and having access to free speech. The richest corporations and content providers should not be able to use their money to access users so overwhelmingly.

Because the issue of net neutrality is still in happening, we have the ability to affect change right now. We can inject our voices into the conversation. We don’t have to wait two decades and voice our concerns in retrospect. We can engage in conversations with our friends, families, and peers, we can print our opinions in newspapers, we can call our representatives in the House and the Senate, we can write to the FCC, and we can contact our service providers. We have the power. We just have to use our voices. We have to pay attention. We have to care. Net neutrality and Internet regulation is a huge deal. We have to do something about it, no matter if we support or protest net neutrality.