The End of Net Neutrality – What Does This Mean For Us?
By now you’ve seen and heard that The Federal Communications Commission [FCC] voted to repeal net neutrality protections, thus changing the way we use the internet, for the foreseeable future. While this change won’t be effective overnight, basically, we’re back to 1999 internet unless of course you pay for a premium or upgraded service. Just think what it was like to wait 24-36 hours to download a 12 track album from Limewire.
In case you aren’t aware of what exactly is at stake, let’s recap. Net neutrality is the guarantee that Internet providers must treat all data on the”net” the same, and can not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. As it stands, under these principles, internet providers are unable to deliberately block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.
We are a tech savvy society. Everything we do from researching for educational assignments to job applications or navigating social networks to checking emails and staying up-to-date on our favorite shows with streaming services is dependent upon internet services.Without net neutrality, internet will be similar to cable packages where certain content will be grouped into tiers and equipped with additional fees to access it.
There is so much at risk with losing net neutrality. This changes the way we will do business for entrepreneurs with an online only platform. For social media influencers who have gained fame from Instagram and YouTube videos, these tiers can affect their audiences and cash flow, tremendously.
But how will net neutrality affect those who are already facing economic hardships? These pending changes, if not appealed again, may leave out a population of people from basic everyday functions. While nine out of ten low income families have an internet connection, a quarter of them have mobile only services. Of those with home access (non-mobile), half say their connections are too slow for function. One in five families with Internet access says their connection has been cut off in the past year because of a failure or inability to pay the bill. Adding additional charges, will only create a larger barrier in their accessibility.
However, the biggest disadvantage with net neutrality is that internet providers can slow down and completely block not only their competitors content but opinions that they disagree with as well. The would affect the results you see on the first page of Google and may even force you to have to use Bing in certain areas.
Consequences of Net Neutrality Repeal
The consequences will be especially devastating for marginalized communities media outlets have misrepresented or failed to serve. Persons of color, the LGBTQ community, indigenous peoples and religious minorities in the United States rely on the idea of “open internet” to organize, access economic and educational opportunities, and fight back against systemic discrimination. In other words, the absence of net neutrality will silence the voices of those still fighting to be heard. It will strip us of our freedoms and attempt to enforce compliance with the majority. It will strive to undo the progress we’ve made in creating equal opportunities for marginalized communities.
We’ve come a long way with the internet, seems like such a waste to get here and mess this up. Earlier this week, all the pioneers of the internet sent a letter to Congress letting them know how bad a decision this would truly be if net neutrality was ended. Now that as a nation we’re here, we have to just hope, much like with the current presidency, that it doesn’t get much worse. But, like this presidency, the sick feeling remains, that this will likely get a lot worse before it gets any better.
Hope for the best.
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