Why you should care about Net Neutrality
By Ida Salmany, Contributor
Net neutrality is the policy that all internet activity should be treated equally. Whether you’re watching cat videos on YouTube, stalking your ex on Facebook, or buying something you absolutely do not need from Amazon (it’s okay, we’ve all been there) with the net neutrality proposition passed, you will have to pay to use these services and know that companies such as Comcast and AT&T are favouring their content over their rival’s content.
Recently, the current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman of Trump’s office, Ajit Pai, issued a proposition to eliminate the present net neutrality policies. This means that broadband providers will be able to charge the web companies for a “fast lane” option, whereas smaller online video or video game providers could be pushed aside to the “slow lane.” The most prominent service providers such as Netflix, Google, and Amazon will have to pay more money, benefitting the Internet Service Provider (ISP), but resulting in a disadvantage for us as consumers.
The prices of our internet providers will increase, and companies such as AT&T and Comcast could give their own service priority on their network, reducing competitors and limiting what you can access. For example, Bing could pay Bell to increase their speed and then Bell could charge you an extra fee to get faster Google services. This is terrible news for startup companies working hard on being the next Facebook or Netflix. Ultimately it can lead to your internet experience looking more like cable TV, where your provider will curate all the content.
Last week, Justin Trudeau was asked about his thoughts on the FCC’s proposal and responded by saying that he will defend net neutrality, which is essential to small businesses and consumers. On December 14 the FCC is scheduled to vote on the proposition, and it has become certain to some that it will pass.
Internet access is and should always be a place for freedom of speech. It should be a platform where everyone can access freely and express equally. ISP’s should not be able to discriminate against information or specific websites by blocking them and making them slower and harder to access, which will ultimately discourage us from using slower sites. While the internet might not be physically needed to survive, for most of us it has become an absolute necessity. We rely on the internet for work, for school, for communicating with friends and families, and it helps us organize our lives. Putting such a valuable tool into the hands of companies that only care about profiting is a terrible idea. If we don’t let the free market decide the price we pay for water and electricity without any regulations, why should we give it the opportunity to determine the fate of the internet?