Within less than a week, the FCC will be taking a vote to slash net neutrality rules in America as proposed by chairman Ajit Pai on May 18, 2017. Unfortunately, this issue seems to have garnered more attention just recently on the count that it will ultimately be posing a threat to freedom on the internet as we know it, because this vote is set to take place on the 14th of December. I’ve been particularly vocal about how I feel about net neutrality because even if it weren’t to affect me directly in Canada, I can still feel that a part of me would be affected considering how many of my own peers come from America and will most likely be unable to continue their work on the internet as actively as I would normally see.
So what is net neutrality, in a nutshell? Net neutrality is, putting it slightly, the freedom for people who browse the internet on a regular basis without any bias. That means that our access to social media sites such as Facebook or streaming sites like Netflix all are free of charge without any form of bias coming on the ends of our Internet Service Provider. And it’s something that we haven’t been brought aware of because of the fact that the net is used by people like ourselves on a regular basis with the comfort that we can go ahead and look up whatever we wish.
And what happens the moment in which net neutrality is repealed? To put it bluntly, access to many websites that you use on a regular basis will end up blocked off, slowed down, or sped up unnaturally because your Internet Service Provider has a bias against how you use them. In our current political climate, it is even more worrying because Donald Trump can just shout “fake news” at anything that goes against his record whether it be the many sexual assault allegations or his plans to wage war with North Korea. In a world where Donald Trump is the president of the United States, the repealing of net neutrality is dangerous noting that he can use this to silence out people at his own will primarily because they will put his position in danger.
I don’t really mean to make this a political post, but it’s especially worrying because human beings have the right to know how their politicians plan to run what they have for their own people. The Internet does not belong to one sole being nor an entire corporation, and net neutrality is the sign that it represents freedom for the people. Net neutrality is the freedom of speech for people of any side of the political spectrum – and many people are at the risk of losing that freedom because of the fact that they merely cannot afford to pay just to access whatever sites they wish to use. It’s like having to pay just for your own right to your own personal security – which I’m pretty sure is something that you can determine on your own without needing anyone to decide.
One is told that from signing up onto social media or even as much as a Google search that what they do on a regular basis is monitored by another authority. Those people aren’t wrong, but the fact that net neutrality may end up being repealed is also putting these monitors in more power over the people. And referring to the last paragraph, it’s also far more of a threat to one’s own personal security because the repeal of net neutrality would only remind the average citizen that they’re being watched by people who help in providing the internet to them. Sure, one’s own search history isn’t something private even opening an incognito browser in Google Chrome can hide that – but it’ll put one’s own life at risk because their providers have a bias against the services that such people have access to on the regular.
So how come I’m commenting even if I’m in Canada? It’s because the last thing I’d want is to be unable to communicate with many through this blog, which is run by Americans – and many services that grant me the access to the many films I am able to watch whether it is Netflix or FilmStruck, are American. I have become a prominent presence all over social media, via Facebook or Twitter – and they also happen to be American services. The last thing I would want is for even myself to be shut down from the outside because of what Ajit Pai wants to plan for Donald Trump, he wants to shut down any sign on the internet that would go against his permanent record because he insists that it is “fake news” and it’ll even put more than just the United States inside of a world akin to John Carpenter’s They Live where one’s participation in society is spelled out to them via subliminal messages that have a single instruction: “obey.”
And not only that, many of our services wouldn’t be available to American users which would even put us at the risk of having net neutrality taken away slowly. It isn’t only going to make our access to American services more expensive, but Americans trying to find a way to reach outside of what’s restricted to them will end up being charged more by their internet service provider. Because of this, the Internet is also at the risk of turning into a prison for the average American citizen, the sort that some say it’s necessary to “stay off your phones.” Ajit Pai is looking for more reason to render the silliness of that argument valid and it’s something I cannot stand for.
Only one day remains in which you can join the fight. Every voice, American or not, is welcome. We need it in order to keep the Internet free – because it shouldn’t belong to authority. It belongs to the people that keep it as diverse as it is. Join the fight for net neutrality, and write to congress. It isn’t too late. If I’ve been able to sign up and write a letter constantly from Canada, then you can too from America.