Today, on a party-line vote, the Federal Communications Commision voted to end Net Neutrality. As it stood, internet service providers were forced to allow equal access to sites and content. Now the internet will be governed by the whims of monopolistic corporations and their shareholders, affecting everything from speed to content.
Imagine you own a candy shop, newly opened. You have a product you would like to sell online. The internet used to demand providers be neutral with regard to traffic provided. But consider, online access now that Net Neutrality has been eliminated. ISPs can now create multiple speed packages at exorbitantly high rates, favor businesses willing to pay more and throttle back sites the ISP (or shareholders) doesn’t prefer. With the end of Net Neutrality, big businesses with big budgets will likely edge the small ones out.
Or think about how the end of Net Neutrality will affect cash-strapped schools. With many budgets cut to the bone, do we really think schools in lower socioeconomic areas--many of which with one ISP--will always be able to afford the increased costs of internet service? Granted, the big communications companies have promised to not increase costs to schools, but with big money calling the shots and compliant former employees acting as regulators, who believes that promise will be kept?
There is some argument that ending Net Neutrality will actually increase investment and competition leading to an increase in Americans with internet access. But limited access to competing providers in many areas belies that claim. Instead, the elimination of Net Neutrality will be of biggest benefit to corporate ISPs.
Many of us remember the world before Google became a household term, but since then, access to the internet has become essential. Many of us both organize our lives with it and idle away hours skimming our Facebook feed. But it is more than that. Often it is the only way available for working people to apply for a new job, pay a bill, or successfully compete in business.
The internet is vital to a healthy democracy, a prosperous economy, and new innovations. But the FCC’s vote to end Net Neutrality will likely deeply damage a vital service we need to function in our daily lives.
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