Network neutrality keeps the Internet free and open to everyone. If this changes and the Internet goes corporate, then what is seen on the Internet and the connections to it are at stake.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has protections in place to prevent providers from analyzing and manipulating the data sent from one end of the network to the other. In January of this year, a federal court ruling declared the FCC had overstepped its boundaries. The FCC has since signaled that it might suggest that Internet providers charge content providers for a faster conduit to consumers, thus ending network neutrality.
The phone companies are not allowed to manipulate data, and Internet companies should not be able to either. However, unless the FCC takes a stand for a free and open Internet, the big providers could have a field day with options for interfering with the Internet. The major companies can interfere with and block articles and speech that make them look bad, or promote what they consider good media, or even block applications and companies that compete with their own, among other things.
“Net neutrality” means applying well-established common carrier rules to the Internet in order preserve its freedom and openness. These common carrier laws are not new ideas; they have been around for centuries, affecting railroads and things of the like. Anything that has the potential to be monopolized and consumed by a wide variety of people generally comes with common carrier laws. In fact, common carrier rules have already been written into the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by Congress. They just need to be applied to broadband Internet connection by the FCC.
In previous years, telecommunications companies had been forced to abide by the net neutrality principles. The January ruling stripped the FCC of its power to enforce net neutrality protections, so now the telecom companies have a rather convenient opening to begin exploiting technologies by monitoring and controlling data sent via their networks.
The Internet needs to be protected. It needs to remain free and open, as it has been since the beginning. As an integral part of 21st century life, it needs to stay neutral and free and accessible by anyone. I should not have to worry about whether I can find the information I need because some company might be paying a telecom provider to cover it up or slow it down. I do not want to worry about what I tweet or blog about lest it be something my Internet provider does not like. Everything from YouTube to live-streams of events and concerts and even news sites could be affected if net neutrality goes away. The FCC needs to know that people know and care about what is going on with net neutrality. The future of the Internet could be drastically changed if the people do no let the big guys know that the Internet cannot be controlled. Signing a petition, contacting an official or even just creating some more discourse are all positive steps towards making sure that the Internet stays free, just like it always has been.