Should the FCC Repeal Net Neutrality?

On Dec. 14, the FCC will vote on dismantling Net Neutrality, the basic principle dictating that Internet providers, (Verizon, AT&T, Comcast etc.) will not speed up, slow down, or block websites that their customers use. The argument on one side is that breaking up the agreement will allow competition to take place in the world wide web, and a counterpoint to this is that consumers, the American public, may be taken advantage of by the corporations, having to pay more for their services and have less enjoyable content. With this information, and other knowledge and any research that you have done, what is your clubs stance on the potential breaking up of Net Neutrality?

The Club’s stance on Net Neutrality is that it must be protected and defended. What the FCC is currently doing to remove protections, granted by the previous administration to support net neutrality, is wrong. This serves only the interests of those who stand to gain from the imposition of differential treatment of data. On the face of it, it sounds innocuous.

Companies generally have a level of authority over how their product is used, and how people that purchase a service use it. Charging different levels for different services sounds reasonable at first pass. But data is different. Data isn’t a traditional commodity, and the internet service providers (ISP’s) have a profit driven agenda aimed at getting more and more from the common person for less.

When the argument for rollbacks comes from the newly appointed head of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai says in a recent speech: “The plan to restore internet freedom would return to us the light touch, market-based approach under which the internet thrived.” His use of the word freedom here is not the freedom for the common man, woman or child in the United States that benefits every day from the usage of the internet, but instead to the multibillion dollar ISP’s that have a vested interest in being free to demand more money for less product.

The light touch and market based approach doesn’t work, and we have seen time and time again, industry over industry, that reasonable restrictions are a public good.

Think of 1906 and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. In that book, which detailed the difficulty of the poor in industrialized America, particularly of interest was the unsanitary conditions of the meatpacking industry. This led to public outcry and the passing of the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1907.

The market, left freely, would not self-regulate in a way that benefits consumers. Throttling of data for more money, a limit on usage and priority lanes would surely come, creating even more problems for most Americans, and benefitting those companies at the expense of the average person. Look at what already goes on, where a company such as Verizon advertises unlimited data, but yet has a “go” and “beyond” unlimited plan; yet doesn’t unlimited mean just that? Imagine the price gouging that will ensue if this rollback happens. Comcast taking back claims of “no paid prioritization” is just again an example of what consumers should be prepared for.

And this is just on the face of it in terms of economics. Push a little, and what if a particular website or news outlet were critical of an ISP? The possibilities entailed by the potential rollback of these regulations are vast, but largely dangerous. For what if those ISP’s see a candidate who supports resurrecting these regulations, or who they see as a threat to their industry?

Maybe that candidate’s website doesn’t load quickly or is unable to be loaded at all. ISP’s are already incredibly powerful and control our access to data. Giving more power to them is the last thing that we as a nation should be doing if freedom is truly what we are interested in.

Net neutrality is nothing less than fair and equal access to information.

By definition – Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.

Without this ISP’s will have the power to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites or online content. In layman’s terms No Net Neutrality equals microtransactions for the internet.

Net neutrality is obviously a very serious issue indeed as it affects us all as a country, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum. To be very clear, Net Neutrality is not a partisan issue.

We College Republicans view the dissolution of Net Neutrality as an abuse of power by our federal government. What makes the internet so great is that it provides a platform for people to exchange ideas, goods and access an unlimited amount of information with very limited restriction (at least in the United States).

This platform provides a level playing field for competitors while opening businesses to a broader number of customers; it’s the ultimate tool for self-starters, small businesses and really anybody in a free-market. There is no good that can possible come from the repeal of Net Neutrality.

Upwards of 77 percent of Americans support Net Neutrality because it prevents ISPs from providing an unfair experience on the web while charging more for unreliable service. Many people on the right tend to view online corporations with abhorrence because of issues like censorship and cracking down on certain opinions; companies like Twitter, Google, YouTube and Facebook tend to find themselves in the spotlight of these arguments. Without Net Neutrality many people will find themselves in similar positions, an ISP can throttle or even block access to certain websites.

ISPs already have monopolies in certain parts of the country, so it’s not like people can choose another service provider. The repeal will only grant more power to companies to do as they please. The fastest speeds will go to those who pay the most for their services, but how is somebody who starts a website for their small business supposed to keep up with a large corporation like Google or Netflix?

The argument that repealing Net Neutrality will help the free-market is ridiculous since it will only cause an imbalance in the playing field that will hurt those on who are on the bottom or just starting out. Net neutrality prevents ISPs from extorting people out of fair internet and having to pay for better access. Aren’t Americans paying enough costs as it is?

We cannot stress enough how important Net Neutrality is. It goes beyond party lines. Why the Trump administration is pushing this through we don’t know, but at this point it seems like Trump is either making a fool of fellow Republicans, embarrassing his country, or shooting himself in the foot every single week. Back in 2011 the SOPA/PIPA during the Obama administration saw how unpopular it was at that time, and it’s a shame that our government hasn’t learned since then.


Leave a Reply