The Clarion

We can still save the internet

Dylan Martin, Graphic Designer

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Clarion Illustration by Dylan Martin

The idea of net neutrality has existed since the early days of the internet. There is good reason for this, a fair and equitable web space is a very important aspect of our right to free speech. For all the flaws of the world wide web, it has done a lot to give voice to the voiceless. A person can hop on the internet and share their thoughts, whatever they might be, thanks to social media and the blogging explosion among other things.

This has manifested in both wonderful and terrible ways, but there is no denying the full realization of the first amendment is made more possible thanks to the existence of the internet. Technology is a double-edged sword that also threatens to limit freedom of speech if used in the wrong way without proper regulation.

When net neutrality regulations were first put in place by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in early 2015, the internet became a protected service similar to telephone networks. It mandates that access to data on the internet is a fundamental right, not to be tampered with by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Imagine trying to do a job search without access to online services like Indeed or Craigslist and you might understand why the internet is a necessity for day-to-day life.

As you likely know, the FCC overturned net neutrality in December. This deregulation puts the monitoring of ISPs under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and what they will do besides making sure internet providers disclose their behavior is unclear. Because the FCC has to make final adjustments and file their decision with the Federal Register, the death of net neutrality is a few months away. The silver lining to all this is that the active citizen still has time to fight against this reckless action.

As recently as January 15th, Democrat Senators have gathered enough support to force a vote to overturn the FCC’s decision. This is made possible under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which is a law that empowers Congress to overturn new federal regulations within a 60-day window. What is required is a simple majority vote in both the House and Senate, though this vote is likely to go along party lines as only Democrats have signed on to push a vote via CRA. Even if it magically passes this phase, President Trump is likely to veto the decision.

Either way, pushing a vote would force representatives to take a stand on the issue of net neutrality. Republicans could be held accountable for their stance when running for re-election. In addition, Republican representatives might feel more pressure to vote in the favor of the people after passing a very unpopular tax bill, so who knows? We can do our part by getting in touch with our elected officials and letting them know where we stand.

Hold your representatives accountable and keep your voice active. The voice of the people is what led to the FCC passing net neutrality regulation in the first place. Even if a vote in Congress doesn’t help solve this problem, several states are taking action into their own hands. Pay attention to what Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are doing. If you see something, say something. We only truly lose once we stop caring. There is always hope, so hold onto that.

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We can still save the internet