Net Neutrality’s Negative Impact Is Significant

Net neutrality might seem like an obscure concern, but its removal is likely to reverberate into the far corners of the internet.

By Alex Hoffmann

The way you use the internet and the way the internet works may be about to change forever. Trump’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is attempting to end Net Neutrality. Let me first explain what that is and why you should care about it. Net Neutrality is the law that states all information on the internet must be treated fairly. In other words, the internet providers can’t charge you any more to go to one site than they do for any other site, and internet providers are not allowed to corrupt the sites in any way. Without net neutrality, internet providers will have complete control over the information we intercept online by charging more for different sites, placing sites in fast and slow lanes, or even completely blocking sites According to net neutrality advocacy group Freepress,

It means that ISPs should provide us with open networks — and shouldn’t block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company shouldn’t decide who you call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn’t interfere with the content you view or post online.

That means that a web page an internet provider doesn’t find favorable or contains polices they don’t agree with can take much longer to load than one they do like. For example, say there is a politician that supports a particular internet providing company, a website endorsing him will load much faster, you won’t have to pay extra to go to the web site, and it will be much easier to find the information. If the provider is opposed to a politician that doesn’t support it, his website could be more difficult to find, could load much slower, and might even cost more to enter the website. People pay their bills, run their businesses, and do all their shopping online; imagine the hassle that would erupt to pay for bills or groceries.

The argument for the end of net neutrality is that net neutrality makes the internet less secure, but there are much more efficient ways to go about improving the safety of the internet than affecting the way information is dispersed. The most detrimental effect is going to be done to smaller communities, small media outlets, people of color, the LGBTQ community, native peoples, and religious minorities that rely on the impartiality of the internet to organize, find educational opportunities, and fight back against discrimination. All of those things will be much more difficult to view and more powerful internet companies can discriminate against minorities. It will make it impossible for those minority groups to fight back, and they will be buried in the world of information.

Small business are also going to suffer while big business are going to thrive. Consumers are not going to pay extra to go to a bunch of small specialty online shops when they could simply pay for one site and get everything they need. Small online business rely on the open internet to communicate with customers, advertise their products and services, launch their businesses, or create markets. We need the open internet to foster job growth, competition and innovation. Without net neutrality, information will become skewed, lost, unfairly represented, and forgotten.

Photo: No Internet by Marcelo Graciolli on Flickr