The Fight For Internet Freedom Continues

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The Fight For Internet Freedom Continues

Tanner Harris

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The concept of net neutrality is, admittedly, confusing. There’s so much legal talk that gets thrown around whenever the term is brought up that it’s easy to get lost in the sea of red tape. You may have recently heard about the Federal Communications Commission’s 3-to-2 vote to remove the United States’ net neutrality laws that were instituted under the Obama administration in 2015, using the logic that eliminating said laws will allow for more competition and freedom, a decision that was against 87% of public opinion.

“I don’t think…there should be any website blockage. People should think for themselves and shouldn’t be swayed by what they see…and net neutrality is a fight over the resource of data,” said Aiden Nuckles, sophomore computer engineering major.

However, the purpose of this article is not to educate you on what is net neutrality; there are a number of websites you can inform yourself in that respect. What I am here to say is that the fight for net neutrality needs to continue.

It was discouraging to those of us in favor of net neutrality how swiftly and decisively the FCC made its decision, and the and cringe-worthy “7 Things You Can Still Do On The Internet” video the FCC released after the vote certainly didn’t help things. It even called those who support net neutrality “internet trolls” in its description (it was later taken down for copyright infringement). But some bigger players have begun to take notice that something wasn’t quite right.

Currently, a bill proposing to overturn the FCC’s rash decision is sitting in Congress and will be put to a vote in the future. This bill has the entire weight of the democratic party behind it, as well as some conservative backing as well. Several state governors, including those of Montana and New York, have declared that they will not issue state-sponsored contracts to internet service providers should they elect not to follow current tenants of net neutrality, and more than twenty states are suing the FCC claiming the decision violates federal law.

Zuriat Iriafen, sophomore biology major, has been invested in the fight for net neutrality since 2015.  “[The vote] wasn’t surprising, but disappointing. A good majority of Congress would have to override that decision unless an executive order is passed. Hopefully most of the states follow the trend, and that forces the FCC to change [their stance],” said Iriafen.

Perhaps the most surprising player to emerge is Burger King, who recently released an online ad showing one of their locations “throttling” the distribution of their Whopper sandwiches from customers. It hit #3 on trending when it was released in January, and currently holds more than four million views.

Zachary Fennell, senior English major, admits the ad was a good idea.

“I think [the Burger King ad] is a pretty humorous and effective idea…and I hope a majority of people are rational enough to realize [the point]. The FCC clearly doesn’t care what the public thinks, [but] the fat lady has not sung,” said Fennell.

Ajit Pai, current chairman of the FCC, claims that removing net neutrality would “eliminate heavy-handed internet regulations”, but it escapes me how restricting the flow of information so that only those who can pay for the best speeds encourages that. The internet is a public resource, one which nearly all people access on a daily basis without regard to age, gender, sex, or socioeconomic status. To take that away ultimately benefits no one.

“We have potential to win,” said Iriafen. “People need to understand that government does matter, [and] stuff like this affects you a lot.”

I, for one, will be continuing my fight for true internet freedom. Will you?