Ownership and Control: Net Neutrality

The Internet has been a largely democratic instrument in the lives of the public for the last few decades. The Internet does not discriminate against users or content and is a cost-free platform for people all over the world to voice their opinions and engage their interests. Access to various news websites, social media sites, and other informational pages allows the reader free reign when deciding what information to tune in to. However, Internet equality has recently become a topic of discussion, as the government is currently debating whether the law should require net-neutrality. Net neutrality prohibits Internet providers from creating coalitions with certain websites and encouraging the usage of those sites by blocking their users from viewing similar sites. A recent court case passed in order to allow Internet providers to create streaming deals with certain websites in exchange for a faster connection to their users. With the amount of democratic compromises our country is already dealing with, keeping the Internet equal and free is incredibly important.

This issue is getting a lot of attention in the news as changing the equality of the Internet would effect both companies and users alike. For me, not being able to access websites that I use daily such as CNN, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon would have a profound effect on the information I acquire and the way I interact with the world-wide web.

The effects would also be seen at the company level. Websites will now have to pay extra money to internet providers in order to maintain the amount of people visiting their sites daily. For example, if Comcast signed a deal with the New York Times and therefore slowed down streaming to sites such as the Denver Post, the Post would lose many of its online readers. This would be a detrimental loss considering the amount of Denver community members who probably use Comcast. The beginnings of these coalitions could mean conglomerates being formed and dominating not only television and film, but the internet as well. The only benefiting parties in this situation would be the companies who joined forces. These conglomerates could shape the information we receive, potentially in an unfair and biased manner. With less access to different outlets of information, the public will not be able to receive well-rounded news information.

If the internet was forced to be equal and fair by banning companies from engaging in this act of conglomeration, the people would be much better off. Everyone would be able to have equal access to any information and our country would be able to make decisions regarding that information without government intervention.

In my opinion, the government should not allow companies the choice to practice net neutrality or not. However, if the government is going to allow providers the option, there should be heavy regulations imposed. For example, one regulation could require unbiased news reporting. Overall, the best thing for the public would be for  the FCC to amend this legislation in order to continue to allow discrimination-free access to all the information the internet provides.

If you’re interested, the video below provides a bit more information about the court ruling and what the end of net neutrality could really mean for our country. Very interesting!

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