Bear Witness

Net Neutrality is on the way out

Shlok Gore, Staff Writer

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With the repeal of the so-called net neutrality, the internet, once known as an information superhighway, can now be be dotted with toll booths set up at the discretion of telecom companies.

The controversial decision to repeal net neutrality by Chairman Ajit Pai and his Republican associates at the Federal Communications Commission may indicate a new era in the online world. It also means that the government cannot regulate online access.

Though the major effects of the decision will take weeks to be placed in action, online experts fear that the decision can let internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T charge for access to specific websites. As other countries have shown, these websites will now be bundled into packages for purchase.

Net neutrality’s repeal has major implications for Branham students. Want to write that essay that you put off until the last day? Now you’ll need to pay money to work on it because you use Google Drive, a site that can be on a “blocked until paid” list.  

Not only would certain websites be hidden behind a paywall, but the internet could be generally slower.  

“There are people who can already barely access the internet, and if net neutrality goes away it’s going to be even harder for them,” said sophomore Andre Quintos. “It would also affect me a lot because I spend a lot of time online, and if the neutrality is taken down, everything will require a lot more time to finish than it should.”

To better understand net neutrality, World and AP World History Teacher Aaron Sherrill compared it to another public service: our highway infrastructure.

“When the government views a public resource as being very important for the general welfare, they might choose to regulate it, so everyone gets to use it equally and freely,” Sherrill said.

In regards to the internet, the government provides infrastructure, and with the recent decision by the FCC, this control would be handed over to private corporations. An effect of this would be the possibility of paywalls and extra fees.

According to the Washington Post, the Trump Administration has fully backed this initiative by the FCC.  In fact, Ajit Pai was Trump’s pick for the FCC when he came into office, and he is a former Verizon executive, one of the major telecoms backing the repeal.

For free internet advocates, decision made by the FCC is not total absolution, because the action stills needs to go through the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives in order to be finalized.

In the case that even those higher powers cannot stop the action, the state of New York is leading a coalition of states, including Washington and California in a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission.

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Net Neutrality is on the way out