Imagine having to purchase a specific package from your web provider to visit your favorite websites. But not every website may be included in this package, forcing you to purchase additional packages to access your email, music, or social media. Unfortunately, this could be the future of the internet in America unless more people come together to protect Net Neutrality.
Net Neutrality is the concept that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the internet equally. Content, websites, or applications cannot be slowed down or blocked, and ISPs cannot charge internet users for better internet speed or access to certain domains.
In 2015, Net Neutrality was protected by placing ISPs under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Title II regulations. Under Title II, the FCC monitors ISP activity and prevents ISPs from taking advantage of consumers by charging them for faster internet speeds or to access certain websites.
However, the protections offered under Title II are now in danger. The new chairman for the FCC, Ajit Pai, plans to cast a vote on December 14th to dismantle Net Neutrality. Pai’s plan for the internet is essentially to make ISPs “promise” not to abuse their power by having them disclose their activities to the FCC. However, ISPs already have a history of violations before they were regulated. For example, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T blocked their users from using Google Wallet in favor of their own mobile-payment system, Isis Wallet. Pai’s proposal would reduce the FCC’s power to penalize ISPs to only after they’ve committed a violation.
If Net Neutrality is repealed in December, ISPs could return to reducing internet speeds and blocking certain content in favor of their own. Websites and applications that were previously free for everyone could only be available to those who can afford multiple internet packages.
There is still hope to keep Net Neutrality. If enough people encourage their senators and congressmen to defend Net Neutrality, Pai’s proposal will fail. Calling representatives isn’t the only option: there are numerous online petitions and even a phone number that can send letters and faxes to representatives.