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Net Neutrality

Imagine this, it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon. Things are going great and you decide the best way to relax is to surf the web for anything interesting. You go onto your usual newsfeeds like Quora Digest and you look for anything interesting to read. What you should see is a list of various articles that have been given to you based on your various interests and previous searches. However, this might not be the case anymore. You might instead see an ad on Verizon’s data plan or a very interesting fact about how they are superior to their competitors. Yeah, very interesting stuff. This a very scary and close possibility. Imagine this reality: big corporations such as Verizon controlling and regulating constantly what you see on the Internet for their own benefit. Imagine a reality where you have to start paying to get more freedom on the internet or to even be on the Internet just like paying for electricity and for water. This is exactly what the corporations want, they believe that they should be profiting from what you are seeing and roaming on the Internet. The only thing stopping these corporations is a large brick wall called net neutrality.

What is net neutrality exactly? Well basically, net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same. It will prevent discrimination or charge differently by users, content, websites, platforms, applications, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. This will allow for all people that access the Internet to be treated the same and have the same privileges. This term was first used by a Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003, who explained that net neutrality was an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier, which was utilized in order to help clarify the role of telephone systems. Over the years, many big companies tried to get past the rule of net neutrality in secret and have been caught numerous times. A big example of this can be seen with Internet service provider Comcast’s secret slowing, otherwise known as “throttling” of uploads from peer-to-peer file sharing applications by using forged packets. AT&T’s new shared data plans could access the application. The most recent case was in July 2017, where Verizon Wireless was accused of throttling when users caught on that videos played on Netflix and Youtube were slower than usual, even though Verizon commented that it was conducting “network testing” and that net neutrality rules permit “reasonable network management practices.”

All of these cases help to shine light on the goals and what these massive conglomerates envision internet should be like. So far, net neutrality has allowed the government to treat the Internet like paying for electricity. Unfortunately, net neutrality is dangling on a string ready to fall in the United States. This is mainly due to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai who is ready to take away net neutrality for good. His stance on net neutrality has led to all of this controversy and outrage. He has received death threats and has been condemned by the nation for what he is planning on doing. With only a week left before the FCC makes a final decision, net neutrality could be completely gone in the US. If this decision pulls through to abolish net neutrality, get ready to start paying for your internet in a completely different way.