By Will Harsha
September 10th marked the start of the battle over net neutrality. On Wednesday many popular sites like Netflix, Reddit, and imgur posted loading screen icons to protest in favor of net neutrality. The loading icon is a symbol of what the Internet would look like without net neutrality. Net neutrality is the idea that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on the data they are sending, what websites they show, and how fast they deliver service. The Internet slowdown has gained a lot of momentum with almost 5 million people supporting www.battleforthenet.com.
Most internet users are pro net neutrality because it would mean cable companies wouldn’t be able to censor what they see or throttle their internet based on what websites they use. If these cable companies had more control of providing internet they can reduce how fast some sites run and would make them pay in order to have a fast connection while those that cant pay wont have a good connection. The current FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, is also a source of debate when it comes to net neutrality. He used to lobby for cable companies and many people question his right to be in control. He has proposed rules that could allow companies to undermine net neutrally, which has caused many large companies like Google and Microsoft to say these changes are a grave threat to the Internet, as we know it. If net neutrality doesn’t hold up or get a revamp then companies like Comcast and ATT&T would be able to offer two lanes of Internet, one that is slow and one that is fast and exclusive and only available to high paying customers.
This is something that could affect everyone who uses the Internet; it would even have impact at UHS. Tech director Mike Syrek said it could impact our school because if the companies decide to start throttling YouTube, teachers wouldn’t be able to use educational videos to teach. He also said it would have less impact here than what private users would see because much of the discrimination of data would be targeted at “Entertainment sites.” What does this mean for you as a UHS student? If net neutrality is undermined you might have to pay even more for the service you get now, your Internet could be throttled based on the type of data you are receiving, and what you are able to see could be censored. The best way to voice opinion is to tell congress that cable companies should be classified as common carriers. This means they won’t have the ability to discriminate what data they send and to stop the plan for two lanes. Net neutrality is what keeps the Internet the way its meant to be, open. An open Internet is a tool than everyone can use, without censorship or hurdles for people to cross in order to access it.
Image Source: http://www.savetheinternet.com/net-neutrality