PRO: Equality on the web

The Federal Communications Commission recently created a large digital impact by voting to repeal net neutrality. If this repeal isn’t halted by  Congress, it can essentially kill the internet that we now know.

The internet can be divided into two categories: internet content providers, such as Netflix, Facebook and YouTube, and internet service providers, such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T. Net neutrality works in the favor of internet content providers, which naturally results in working in the favor of consumers as well.

YouTube, for example, provides video streaming, which takes much more bandwidth than something simple like emailing. Net neutrality prevents internet service providers from charging YouTube and, as a result, the consumer more for taking up the large amount of bandwidth. It neutralizes the cost of receiving this data.

However, this destroys a very large necessity to the economy: competition. If the majority of people are only paying for Facebook, it limits the discovery and growth of a small startup, which Facebook once was. Net neutrality allowed Facebook to grow and build an audience, instead of alwaying  larger companies like Myspace from continuing to dominate  the internet.

Net neutrality also ensures that certain websites and services cannot be slowed down or blocked. These large internet service providers fight the battle against net neutrality because without it, they would be making significantly more profit charging for larger uses of data. Net neutrality works to prevent these large companies from finding more ways to make more profit, such as slowing down or blocking other services as a way to profit more off of consumers and internet content providers.

Without net neutrality, a large internet provider like Comcast would have the ability to slow down a competitor, such as Netflix, in effort to keep consumers to stay on their cable plans. This in itself would not be much of a problem, as Netflix has the money to pay for what would be an internet “fast-lane” to speed up their service again. The problem is that this would ruin competition, as well as create extra charges for consumers for a paid for service like Netflix. Though a large company like Netflix can afford this “fast-lane,” smaller, startups  that could possibly be the next big future alternative will likely never take flight.

By smaller services being buried by these larger, more favored platforms, it also brings up a conflict with free speech; with blockages and speed reductions, as users, we would be losing the freedom to pick and choose which services we spend our data on. The system would essentially be blocking other services from our reach and filtering out the alternatives, limiting our choices as consumers.

The internet is for us. It is a public good, not a monopoly—net neutrality keeps it that way.