Fighting to keep net neutrality is fighting for consumer rights

by Gustavo Cristobal, Staff Writer

Net neutrality should not be up for debate. The argument to get rid of it is fueled by the greed of special interests — the telecoms.

Net neutrality is defined as the principle where internet service providers have to treat every piece of data on the internet the same. These companies cannot legally charge different rates or slow down the download speed of websites, applications or platforms.

If net neutrality is lost, companies such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast can decide who will have a large internet platform and who will not. This will take away consumer rights to communicate freely.

Fast lanes and slow lanes would become the new standard for websites. This would disrupt the way information is distributed. These companies could then legally sell consumers different priced internet plans based on the websites offered.

Under the Trump Administration, companies gained one of the most influential seats within the Federal Communications Committee. Ajit Pai is the current chairman of this regulatory agency. In February 2001, Pai served as Associate General Counsel at Verizon. In 2011, he was nominated into the FCC’s Office of General Counsel and served until 2016.

Throughout his time at the FCC, Pai was an ally to broadcasters by advocating for less regulation. In 2015, he voted against the FCC’s Open Internet Order that classified internet service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 which moved to regulate the internet like a utility.

With Pai being the chairman and proposing to eliminate internet service from Title II, he’s giving companies such as Comcast the ability to capitalize in a way not possible.

The future of the internet should not be something that the FCC leaves entirely up to large corporations that constantly try to find new methods to squeeze consumers. It’s bad enough that they are allowed to charge consumers more for internet service based on throttled download and upload speeds. Another tool to take advantage of consumers shouldn’t be allowed.

These ISPs are the same ones that also provide cable and satellite TV. They offer different packages that are more expensive the more channels offered.

Many people are getting rid of their cable/satellite TV subscriptions because they are using streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, where subscriptions tend to be at a lower cost. According to MoffettNathonson Research, about 762,000 pay-TV subscribers cancelled their subscription in the first quarter this year.

These cable companies know consumers are doing this. They know they are beginning to lose money — and they also know ways to regain the lost revenue.

The FCC will vote on Pai’s proposal to end net neutrality on Dec. 14. Take action. Contact the agency and local representatives. Make it known that net neutrality is the future of the internet, the future for innovation to be possible and the future to further extend the spread of information.