Net Neutrality: What is it and Why is it Important?

The internet is a wacky, weird and fun space where everyone has free reign, thanks to something called net neutrality. It allows us access to every website under the sun (including Her Campus!). But we’re in danger of losing net neutrality, which will forever alter the landscape of the internet.

So what is net neutrality? Simply put, net neutrality allows you to access anything on the internet without restrictions from internet providers. Companies who provide internet can not charge and block you from going on certain websites under net neutrality. In 2015 under President Obama, we gained stronger net neutrality rules from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). These rules outlined that internet providers couldn’t block websites from their customers, and couldn’t choose to slow down or speed up websites.

In May of 2017, President Trump’s appointed FCC Chairman, Ajit V. Pai revealed his plan to revert the net neutrality rules put into place by the Obama administration. On December 14th, five members of the FCC will be voting on Chairman Pai’s proposed plan to destroy net neutrality.

Net neutrality is an ideal that every person who uses the internet should be fighting for. Everyone benefits from having a free and balanced internet. The only people who can benefit from losing net neutrality are corporations that provide internet - in the end, consumers lose. The loss of strong net neutrality rules could lead to websites and apps being split up into packages, much like cable, where you have to pay a fee to access certain ones. This could also allow providers to make websites pay to have faster loading times, or be visible to users.

So what can you do to help save net neutrality?

Contact these five voters:

Only five people on the FFC roster will be voting on the fate of net neutrality. Both Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn have stated they will be voting to save net neutrality. We only need Ajit V. Pai, Michael O’Rielly, or Brendan Carr to vote against Pai’s plan to save net neutrality. Contact them and urge them to vote “No” on December 14th. It also may be a good idea to contact Clyburn and Rosenworcel and thank them for voting to save net neutrality.

These are the 5 voters’ emails:

Ajit Pai - [email protected] Mignon Clyburn - [email protected] Michael O'Rielly - [email protected] Brendan Carr - [email protected] Jessica Rosenworcel - [email protected]

Contact your Senators and House Reps:

Find out if your state’s congressional representation is for or against net neutrality. If they’re against, contact them and voice your opinion. Urge them to speak out against the FCC’s plan. If they are for net neutrality, let them know you appreciate their support, and their continuous fight for net neutrality. An easy way to do this is to text "resist" to 504-09. This is a bot that will find your representatives and send them a formal email, fax, and letter to them. The bot is free to use, beside standard messaging rates. Calling your state senators and representative offices is one of the best ways to contact them. Look up their contact information, and find the fill-in-the-blank scripts online (there are plenty of them) that you can follow to make your call go smoother. Websites like https://www.battleforthenet.com/ make this an easy and quick process.

Know who you’re voting for:

Knowing a candidate’s stances on not just net neutrality, but a variety of issues, will make you a more informed voter. This allows you to make the best decisions when you next step into that voting booth. Finding out a candidate’s stances is very easy in our tech driven world - many politicians have websites you can go on, where they outline their stances. They also often use Twitter to announce their opinions on issues.

Speak out yourself:

Make your own stance heard! Write tweets or status updates to inform everyone about net neutrality. It’s easy to do, and you may convince others to join in on the fight. Many people are unaware of the FCC vote and net neutrality itself, and your post could be the reason they get informed.

Together, we can win the battle, and save our internet!