If you have been on the internet lately, you may have stumbled across an array of news articles or posts on your Facebook news feed about “net neutrality.” Net neutrality, whether you’re for or against it, is something that affects everyone, including those here at the University of Wisconsin–Stout. What exactly is net neutrality, and what is happening with it that makes it so important?
Net neutrality keeps your internet provider from slowing down or blocking any content, websites or applications you would like to use online. In 2015, former President Barack Obama passed laws to protect internet users and net neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appointed a new chairman after the most recent election. The current FCC chairman is Ajit Pai, and he wants to make changes to these Obama-era policies. His proposed changes would get rid of net neutrality and return the internet to the way it was in Bill Clinton’s era in 1996.
Pai argues that the lack of regulation would encourage a free market internet, which is what allowed companies like Google and Amazon to emerge on the scene. Pai’s plan also says that internet companies must disclose what they’re doing; they can’t just slow down a site without telling their customers. “The FCC would still require transparency,” Pai said.
Caroline Winkers, a sophomore, said, “[Getting rid of net neutrality] will literally only benefit big businesses and will hurt those who cannot afford to keep their internet at a reasonable speed on websites they need.” Claire Barker, another sophomore, said, “We all need to come together on this. Republican or Democrat, this [policy] will affect us all. This will only benefit the rich.” Junior Cassie Isaacson said, “It’s like going to a library and turning it into a bookstore. Instead of letting you read whatever book (visit whatever site) you want, you now need to pay per book/site. Now instead of just owning the book outright, you pay every month for access to that book. It’s a ridiculously greedy move.”
The FCC votes on the policy against net neutrality on Dec. 14, 2017. If you would like to voice your support or opposition, you can contact your congressmen and women. You may call your congressman directly by looking up their information. Avoid using Resistbot. Due to an incident back in May where the FCC was spammed by millions of bots, they are not accepting bots as justifiable support or opposition.