Bye Bye Net Neutrality, and What That Means for Us

Net neutrality laws have been the core of our free browsing internet privileges. We can look up our favorite blogs from go-to makeup gurus, check out start-up business websites from friends’ recommendations, and browse the web at our leisure without worrying about who is monitoring or policing our viewing experience. Sure, ads from your latest Google search might suspiciously pop up in the next website you visit, but no one will prevent you from visiting the websites you want to see in the comfort of your own home. Unfortunately, that may not always be the case.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has written and published new rules set to be effective April 23rd 2018, created to repeal the Net Neutrality laws put in place under the Obama Administration in 2015. These rules limit the ability of Internet service providers to change the loading speeds for various websites. In other words, websites that pay large wages or are owned by certain providers may work with incredible speed, while others–including websites from start-up companies–may be slowed down to the point of not even loading. This can also have an adverse impact on how websites will show up on search engines such as Google, since slower websites are often ranked lower on search results.

There has been much pushback against the repeal of net neutrality, and the majority of bipartisan Americans support net neutrality despite some politicians’ claims that net neutrality is an example of government overregulation. These laws were meant to protect the public from greedy internet providers with biased agendas. Currently, twelve lawsuits against the FCC have been combined into one case against the FCC. After the repeal of federal laws, Washington State became the first state to pass its own set of net neutrality laws protecting its citizens from internet providers who may block websites that do not contribute to their profit margins. Although the state may face a legal battle in the future, the state is confident that the FCC cannot interfere with its rights to pass state legislature. Whether or not other states follow suit remains up for debate.

Although the fate of net neutrality remains murky, the debate serves as a pressing reminder to us to look towards multiple sources to remain educated. If the internet does become more regulated and more biased, it will be increasingly important for the public to seek knowledge from books, newspapers, and other sources of information. We must refrain from simply relying on one source for information. As a society of educated people, we should remain alert and open-minded, wary that bias and prejudice are always lurking, closer than we think. Net neutrality is set to end several weeks from now on April 23rd. We need to be ready and willing to seek out the truth, even if our internet providers do not want us to see it.

Yemaya Chapter, Lehigh University

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