If you are an active citizen of the online world, then you would understand how important internet access is. Our advancing technology is probably going to turn internet access into a basic need like electricity and water. Consequently, internet service providers (ISP) are positioning themselves to profit from this fact. That looming threat is the reason why the fight for net neutrality exists.
WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY?
In a nutshell, net neutrality means an internet that enables and protects free speech. ISPs should not interfere with the data that passes through their networks. Just as cell phone companies don’t decide who you call and what you say, your ISP shouldn’t interfere with your bandwidth use. A more detailed definition can be found on Wikipedia which reads:
“Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet should treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.”
Imagine this: What if your electrical sockets at home would only power one brand of appliance? That brand is probably paying your electricity provider to gain an unfair advantage. This results to you being limited to only one kind of product per socket. Additionally, you’ll have to spend more for another socket to power a different brand.
Using the illustration, net neutrality prevents the electricity provider from limiting your socket to power certain brands only. In the case of the internet, net neutrality stops ISPs from limiting your access to certain sites only.Global progress will slow down if ISPs get to freely and legally charge us for what we do online.
LOSING NET NEUTRALITY
Website censorship, traffic blocking, data throttling, and traffic prioritization are just some examples of how ISPs violate net neutrality. These threats to free internet prompted congress to file net neutrality laws.
But today, a lot of lobbyists in the US House aim to weaken existing net neutrality laws. This will allow ISPs to legally abuse their customers into paying more as they customize their services to maximize profit.
Aside from this, a world without strong net neutrality laws would allow governments to filter online opinions and propaganda. It would also allow ISPs to favor one website or service over another which is basically anti-freedom of speech. The internet would not be the levelled playing field it is today.
WHY IT SHOULD MATTER TO YOU
Anyone who can read this because of free internet access should care about net neutrality. This is a fight where race, gender, and political affiliation blur because as long as you use the internet, you should lobby for net neutrality.
The only thing ISPs should be doing is lay down the physical infrastructure (cables, towers, fiber lines) that allows users to connect to the internet. They should not care about the data that passes through their networks.
The world freely gave us the internet, and even the software that powers it is free. The reason why we’ve fostered an entire generation defined by the internet is because of its free nature, so why should ISPs profit from it? Justice exists in the universe, that’s why we need to fight for our online rights.