Declaration of the rights of the net

You gotta fight, for your right, to freely surf the web.

Free+access+to+all+parts+of+the+Internet+is+a+fading+privilege.
Free access to all parts of the Internet is a fading privilege.

Free access to all parts of the Internet is a fading privilege.

Free access to all parts of the Internet is a fading privilege.

Danny Brooks, Staff Writer

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Net neutrality is an issue that has been pressing on the country’s peripheral vision for the past few years now. Somehow it still seems as though many people have no idea what it is, or why it’s important in the first place. The basic belief behind it is that Internet service providers should not be able to control, restrict, or influence the content that the customer accesses. For those unfamiliar, the issue may seem completely out of relevance, as corporations channeling certain content isn’t usually a commonly discussed topic. However, it is a principle that concerns each and every one of us, though it still doesn’t seem to garner the attention it deserves.

A common argument against net neutrality is that government regulations on a private enterprise hurts the free market, since technically ISPs aren’t federally controlled. But to be so libertarian with Internet rights would be wildly irresponsible, as the amount of control it would give a few monopolistic minds over the American public is staggering. If they were granted the ability to provide different Internet speeds for different websites and applications, the whole system could very easily turn into a mafia-style extortion fest.

Allowing companies to auction off the fastest web access to the highest bidder is an easy way for large businesses to squeeze out smaller competition. Say, for instance, a rival shipping site began to take customers away from Amazon. Amazon, of course, is not a big fan of this company, and since they are “close” to Comcast, they look into making a deal to keep their website moving quickly and this new rival moving slowly. While it may seem fairly trivial, loading times is a significant factor in return visits to sites. In the technological age, no one likes waiting for things, so the early bird will almost always be getting this worm.

While net neutrality was a “campaign issue,” neither candidate ever seemed particularly inclined to prioritize saving it. For the past few years, ISP lobbyists have been pushing for their friends in Congress to remove the restrictions around connection throttling. This is where the threat to net neutrality has been coming from, and for a while it seemed as though a few fair and sensible souls at the FCC were going to do their due diligence to keep it in place. However, under the current administration, the lifting of these rules seems an eventuality. The ball has already gotten rolling after the President signed off on a bill allowing ISPs to compile and sell Internet histories. While companies such as Google may only use these profiles to target advertisements, this may open the door to blackmailing opportunities.

The idea of one’s personal Internet browsing history being available to the public is startling, even for those who may have nothing of consequence stored away there. Hopefully, people will start to speak up on behalf of their own privacy, or else these quickly-fleeting rights will likely soon cease to be rights.

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