Save the Internet

By Truong Phan

The internet is in grave danger, with opposing threats such as the commissioner of the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) where three chairmen out of five are supporting the idea to abolish net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the principle that service providers, such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, etc. must treat all data on the internet the same, not charge differently by user, content, website, platform, etc. When net neutrality gets abolished, network providers will swoop into action and take advantage of this; they will control the internet however they please.

Ajit Pai is the FCC Chairman that Trump put in place back in January 2017 with a five year term. Since April of 2017, Pai began to propose the idea of abolishing net neutrality.

Mr. Kevin Bechet, a technology teacher at Stoughton High School, runs Knightline with some other students and staff and during an interview, Bechet said, “This is for business. Trump is pro-business and this is a pro-business move.”

Chairman Pai claims, “Abolishing net neutrality would set the internet free” and this is coming from a man who was once a lawyer for Verizon. His efforts to abolish net neutrality would not benefit any average American citizen in the slightest.

Bechet added, “It would hurt Americans, and your average joe smoe who is trying to start their own company or website will now have to pay extra in order to have the same access. Like myself for example, I have many websites to maintain and now I [might] have to pay extra.”

Pai stated that his intention is to not harm the internet, but to remove Title II which net neutrality qualifies for. Title II states that companies under this title are classified as a utility, and therefore can only charge for the cost of the resource, not the use of it. For example, if a water company charges a flat rate of $300 a month for the water used, but also includes additional charges according to the usage of the water, from taking showers to watering your plants, the companies determine if you are using too much water, and can reduce the amount of water you can use as a result.

Scenarios like these are what net neutrality currently protects us from. Net neutrality stops companies from restricting and limiting our internet use and charging us to view specific sites, such as Netflix, Hulu, the New York Times etc.

Mr. Tom McCormack is another technology teacher at SHS. He also shared how he feels about this matter. McCormack said, “This makes the big corporation winning more now than over the little guy.” It’s shocking that the FCC would even consider that this is fair to the people, especially because the very reason the FCC was founded was to protect the right to use the internet, and to preserve its freedom for all people.

Another way the ISP (Internet Service Provider) would benefit immensely from the absence of net neutrality is that they could manipulate your internet in many ways, such as slowing down your connection to the point that you can't use a specific site anymore or lock a site until you pay a “premium” to unlock the site.

Time Warner Cable, now known as Spectrum, has already begun plans to take advantage of the potential abolishment of net neutrality. Spectrum could slow down sites, such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime to the point the point where they cannot be used, which forces consumers to switch platforms to streaming sites provided by Spectrum, at an additional cost.

During an interview with SHS senior Evan Pagliuca, he said, “Net neutrality repeal is just a cable company trying to get more money because people are not spending money on cable packages but [instead, only] internet.”

How can any of this happen? The United States of America is supposed to be a symbol of freedom and a prime example of a capitalist society. How can the citizens who are supposed to herald the name of freedom, let corporate America take advantage of them?

The honest answer is that the majority of the population is uninformed about these topics. All the miscommunication and misinformation about this issue has led the population down a rough road. It will likely be the same people who didn’t speak up who complain the loudest when their internet is either not working, or costing them a fortune.

The death of net neutrality will greatly impact the school system, as a senior student named Madison Smith-McMahon stated, “Net neutrality is important for students like us since the age of technology in education is upon us. Without it, accomplishing our tasks is extremely difficult and we would be the most at risk if it no longer existed.”

The chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, plans to abolish net neutrality on December 14, 2017; even senators are asking the FCC to postpone the date. There will be a final vote between the five chairmen, three against net neutrality, and two for net neutrality.

Ajit Pai said, “Abolishing Net Neutrality would set the internet free,” but the former FCC chairman said, "If a network operator slowed the speed of service below that which the consumer bought, it would be commercially unreasonable and therefore prohibited. If the network operator blocked access to lawful content, it would violate our no-blocking rule and therefore be doubly prohibited.”

Speak up for what you believe, because everyone will be affected. Get informed and make your voice heard. Stay tuned for the results of the vote as you will soon feel its impact.

Links for more information and for the information that informed the writing of this article:


Jenna KellyComment