I am extremely disappointed in the ruling of Ajit Pai’s FCC to end net neutrality. Contrary to those who romanticize the world before the Internet, it was far more difficult to politically organize and know what events were happening both locally and around the world. Personally, I was mostly a shut-in until I had a calendar readily available on my phone. For so many of us, the Internet has increased our face-to-face interactions with others, not decreased them, as stereotypes claim.
The excuse of corporations like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T that the end of net neutrality will allow them to create an “Internet fast lane” is complete tripe. Instead, we’re trading government regulation for corporate regulation. Corporations will be able to charge whatever they want for Internet access and treat websites like the channels in their overpriced cable TV bundles. Do you prefer Netflix for $12 monthly over Comcast’s own Xfinity for $75 monthly? Too bad! Comcast can now legally say that your only choice is to pay for an Xfinity cable bundle. They now have the option of blocking Netflix or charging customers to access it. Comcast can also charge Netflix to make the site available through Comcast Internet, or slow down Netflix so much that it becomes basically unusable.
This is especially bad for small businesses. Unlike huge corporations like Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix, small businesses would not be able to afford the costs Internet providers will require to make content available. Considering the assets available to Amazon, a small online retailer would barely stand a chance.
The decision will even likely kill jobs. I currently work as online writing tutor, and now that job could be in jeopardy. Most jobs use the Internet for hiring, with most job applications being online. Employers will face more difficulty reaching out to potential applicants, therefore stifling available talent.
Students also require Internet access now, as many classes and assignments are online. Their research will likely become tougher since they will need to hope that reliable websites are still available or that information in books at their local libraries is current. Students who take courses online, who may not have access to classrooms locally, may lose their access to education entirely.
Furthermore, the FCC’s decision stifles freedom of speech. If Internet providers decide that a website violates their political views, they can block it. The fact that I am posting a disagreement to the decision right now means that AT&T could block my website and speed up John Rutherford’s just to ensure that I can’t threaten their profits. This can especially hurt minority communities, for whom the Internet has finally provided an outlet to have their voices heard.
The worst part of it all is that consumers will have have no choice. In too many areas, one company will own a monopoly on available Internet service, thus preventing the free market from deciding anything through competition. Furthermore, these corporations are constantly merging with one another to give consumers even less choice.
Beyond this ludicrous decision, the price of Internet access in America is already ridiculous, especially compared to the pricing packages available across the rest of the world. Why should Americans pay more for an essential service? Why should telecommunications companies be allowed to charge more for higher speeds even though those higher speeds cost no extra money to provide?
I vigorously oppose any closure of the Internet based on the interests of mega-corporations. Americans need the Internet for work and educational productivity, just like electricity. I also support allowing cities to open public options for Internet access, treating it as a utility. Without any competition among corporations, this is one of the few options for bringing costs down.
As your Congresswoman, I pledge to reverse the FCC’s decision and make sure that the Internet is protected for those who need it. I hope that you will join me. Furthermore, you can support the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s efforts to fight this corporate dominance.