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Opinion: Bye-bye Net Neutrality, Bye-bye Internet Freedom

12/11/2017 08:33:00 PM Media Center 0 Comments

December 14, 2017 marks the day when the fate of the internet will be determined. This is when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States of America (USA) will vote regarding the repeal of net neutrality. President Donald Trump’s FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, is advocating the dismantling of preexisting Net Neutrality rules from the country’s Title II of the Communications Act.

Net neutrality, long story short, refers to the inability of internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict their customer’s freedom to browse the internet. It ensures an equal rate of data transfer for each website on the internet. So, should net neutrality cease to exist, it would allow ISPs to bundle up websites and dictate which of those are accessible to their users at a given time.

Due to the nature of these companies as businesses, such an opportunity would prompt them into creating packages wherein those that allow access to more websites cost more. Another potential strategy would be the inclusion of other websites for additional fees. It is observable that these are similar to the mechanics of a cable company, where access to more channels is directly proportional to the cost of the service. Which shouldn’t be the case, as the internet was made primarily for communication and the exchange of information, unlike cable television, which is primarily constructed for entertainment purposes. In a sense, it will destroy the freedom of information.

Without net neutrality, large internet based corporations such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing have access to faster rates of data transfer, while smaller-based corporations and simple domain owners will struggle to maintain their sites, or worse, phase out, all because of the fact that they will have lower priority in terms of internet connection.

This issue is alarmingly relevant, because even though the vote itself is limited to the USA, take note that the majority of internet based companies are USA-based, meaning that the outcome of the vote may affect their customers outside the country. In addition to that, it might cause a domino effect where a similar law will be passed in other countries. If that were to happen, this site itself, Ang Aninag Online, will be greatly affected. This, and other independent sites will either be forced to join a major company, or be left with little to no access to its audience.

Aside from this, the monopoly that those major companies will have once net neutrality is lifted will be devastating. They will have the ability to manipulate the contents of what they want to show, what they can block or censor, and what they can be paid to show. When net neutrality is lifted, the endpoint will be a rich man’s game with the masses’ freedom of access as the game pieces to further their own endeavors.

The internet was created in order to link the entire world to a central hub for information that is accessible to anyone and everyone. Because of this, the mere idea of limiting a person’s access defeats its very purpose, not to mention that such an action will only benefit a select number of people. After all, as Tim Berners Lee, the man who “invented” the internet, tweeted back in 2012: “This [the internet] is for everyone.’ //by Aldous Dela Pena and Raymund Creencia

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