Freedom of the web in jeopardy

Chaz Nuttycombe

At one point, net neutrality, the idea that all data on the internet must be treated the same by internet service providers, was a bipartisan issue; both Republicans and Democrats supported the idea.

But as the political environment in America becomes more and more polarized, more and more issues flip from bipartisan to partisan. Net neutrality has become one of them, thanks to Ajit Pai, the recently-appointed Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

On December 14, the members of the FCC voted along party lines to repeal net neutrality, with 3 Republicans voting for the repeal, and 2 Democrats voting against it, despite the nationwide protests. In the eyes of the Trump administration, this is a victorious undoing of  yet another Obama-era policy.

Democrats have fought tooth and nail to save net neutrality, with congressional Democrats introducing a bill that would reestablish net neutrality, and Democratic Attorney Generals in multiple states (including Virginia’s own Mark Herring, who was re-elected in November) preparing to sue the FCC.

Congress still needs to sign off on the repeal, but since Republicans hold both chambers, it’s more than likely they’ll approve. So now that net neutrality is seemingly doomed, what will an internet without it look like?

Without net neutrality, internet service providers will become more like cable TV, where the consumer purchases a ‘package’ from their internet service provider (ISP). ‘Standard’ packages would come with very commonly used websites, such as Google. ‘Premium’ packages would come with other websites that couldn’t afford to pay your ISP to let them become apart of the standard package.

This doesn’t only apply to websites, but social media as well. Should net neutrality be repealed, families of Hanover High students may have to start paying extra for their access to Instagram, Snapchat and so forth.

The effects of the abolishment of net neutrality could also trickle down into Hanover High’s internet access, with fewer resources becoming available due to the school not purchasing packages that have smaller sites that could be resourceful for research.

A petition to the White House has garnered 260,000 signatures, 160,000 more than the required 100,000 for a response from the White House. It’s certain that the American people won’t get a response though; there have been many petitions filed to the Trump administration that have not translated into a White House response, such as a petition with 1,000,000 signatures demanding that President Trump release his tax returns.

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