Letters to the Editor, Opinions

Net neutrality hangs in the balance

The internet we have all grown up with is now in danger by the people we elected to watch over it. And our generation — the millennial generation — needs to make its voice heard. We have known the internet our whole lives, and this vote to remove net neutrality will impact all of our lives for the worse if passed.

The net neutrality legislation was enacted by former President Barack Obama in 2015. It prohibited a monopoly on internet service in order to allow what users are entitled to: the free flow of content.

Journalism professor Teresa Puente, who has been following the net neutrality case,  warned that if these bylines are repealed, it could mean so much corporate manipulation that the internet becomes filtered based on preferences of CEOs. It can also mean the prevention of innovation; there may not be a new Snapchat or Twitter for who knows how long.

“You can build something, but if people don’t have that information highway to see, it’s restricted information,” Puente said.

A free and fast internet shouldn’t be barred by a paywall, and we need to stop being treated as consumers or numbers on a spreadsheet and start being treated as the people we are. Corporations have to stop marching their business ventures into our lives and charging us every chance they get.

Which begs the question: how much farther will corporate America go to spread its business influence? When will enough be enough for people to collectively gather and respond?

Evan Greer, campaign director for net neutrality group Fight For The Future, explains his support in a Snopes article by stating that those who support the right to free speech and the freedom of expression should support net neutrality because it prevents companies like Comcast from blocking or censoring online content.

Greer makes a great point. Net neutrality is preventing telecom companies from restricting online freedoms. For internet providers to restrict websites and content with a paywall is a step against the free flow of information that every American with a internet access enjoys. It is a step against every American’s right to free speech by restricting the words and ideas of others on the internet, to view and publish their own content.  This long-appreciated idea is now in danger of no longer existing.

This is important in regards to education; how will students access the sources they need for their papers? How will professors design their classes under these new restrictions? Will the university need to address these regulations for their own websites? This is something that will affect more than just consumers. It will change the way everyone will use the internet, and it cannot be exploited like this.

Net neutrality is an issue that affects Americans regardless of their party and regardless of their party’s interest. Everyone uses the internet, and it shouldn’t fall to businesses to decide how we receive service.

For millennials, as most Long Beach State students are, to surrender a tool like the internet that nearly all of us use is not an option.

This is a moment where anyone who uses the internet needs to be involved if it is to remain free. Anyone who enjoys Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or any other social or entertainment media online is needed to help defend it from the corporatocracy attempting to make legislation where it doesn’t belong.

If you want to make your voice heard then log on to “battleforthenet.com” and write to congress that this vote cannot change the way our internet is handled. Write your story online or go to a Verizon store and join the protest. Those in the area who wish to make a statement in person are encouraged to go to the Lakewood, Torrance or their local Verizon store as many will be protesting against corporate regulation of the internet.

The internet is ours, and it needs us right now.

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