What Net Neutrality is really all about

Carolyn Gevinski

Net Neutrality, by definition, is the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use. In other words, net neutrality involves our everyday expectation that we are in charge of our own use of the internet. Furthermore, net neutrality guarantees our rights to free speech and open and non discriminatory network use.

So what’s the problem?

This December, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to get rid of Net Neutrality. While the outcries of thousands of people go ignored by the FCC, the issue could potentially be moved to Congress to pass a “Resolution of Disapproval” to overturn the FCC’s decision. However, if this action is not successful, the internet as we know it will be completely changed.

It may appear that the dismissal of net neutrality would be a positive step for our nation’s youth, on the surface. It would get us off of our phones, perhaps bring back an older, more communicative time period that many reminisce about. However, beneath that, the internet controls much more than one might consider.

For example, at this very moment, I am writing an article for The Wave Review, an educationally beneficial way for my fellow staff members and I to express our love for journalism. However, if net neutrality did not exist, it is very probable I wouldn’t be able to write this article at all. I had to visit several websites to gather information on this issue. These websites might not have been available to me, or the content might have been altered and biased to fit the internet providers point of view. Or perhaps I would have had to pay money to gain entry to those websites. Even if it was possible for me to find accurate information, there is no telling if I could type this article at all because perhaps Google Drive would not be freely accessible to me anymore. However, even if by some means I managed to write this article, would our editor, Katie Siegle, be able to post it to the Wave Review website? Would her actions be controlled or allowed? Would the content in my article be altered? Lack of Net Neutrality affects my education in the modern world.

The ban on Net Neutrality affects education in the classroom as well. The internet is used for educational videos on Youtube that aid teachers in their explanations. It has brought us further in the process of learning so as to truly understand the universe around us. Rather than learning about a distant country from an old textbook, we can see what is going on in that country moments after it occurs. Ted Talks, Khan academy, Crash Course, College Board, Google, online universities, Twitter, Quizlet, Kahoot. Tools that have improved studying and understanding, that are constantly improving our generation’s intelligence and accuracy could be taken away or altered. It is not just about taking kids off of Instagram anymore, is it?

Furthermore, when the Sandy Hook shooting happened mere miles away, we knew about it within moments because of the freedom of the internet. Neighboring schools could shut down more quickly in case of lingering danger because net neutrality existed. Perhaps this would have happened without net neutrality, but it would have occured at a much slower rate. Because of net neutrality, the world heard the story of a broken-hearted town in Connecticut within hours. Because of net neutrality, warm wishes were spread throughout social media. Because of net neutrality, our world managed to come a little closer in the face of a disgusting tragedy and unite for the 26 angels lost. It is disturbing that on that same day five years later, the vote to ban net neutrality was passed by the FCC.

The net neutrality ban affects pop culture. It affects the spread of amusement and general happiness. It severs connections across the globe and decreases communication. It allows the people of other countries to advance socially, mentally, and physically, while impeding these improvements for people of the United States.

The gutting of net neutrality affects access to knowledge. It destroys entertainment. It decreases access to tools that help us improve our physical health. It impedes the actions of medical professionals, researchers, educators, corporations, environmentalists, students, journalists, lawyers, and architects. This is not about returning to a better way of life. This is not about Republicans versus Democrats and trying to make a political statement. This is about the destruction of a concept that is a part of the world as we know it. This is a political course of action that will affect every student in this school, not just by taking away the right to Snapchat our friends or post a photo, but by taking away our free speech and ability to learn. This is about the blow that every university will have to take. This is about the United States moving backwards in world affairs. This is about people not receiving medical attention sooner. This is about violence, destruction, rioting, and death. This is more than you think it is.