The debate on net neutrality in the U.S. has been escalating after a U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a regulation put in place by the FCC on January 14th. An upcoming decision will have lasting effects on the internet as we know it today and will do more than just affect our internet service bill. The FCC must approve a net neutrality regulation because the repercussions of continuing without a regulation will turn the internet into a private network controlled by internet service providers (ISPs), affecting our freedoms of speech and information.
ISPs have free reign to severely hinder or block anyone. When elections come, ISPs will push the candidates they support to their customers and block opponents. Major news corporations will invest heavily in ISPs in order to become their preferred media outlet while other news outlets would be blocked. The notion of the internet being an outlet for freedom of speech is over. Senator Franken said it best: the net neutrality debate “is the free speech issue of our time” and that “we cannot allow the FCC to implement a pay-to-play system that silences our voices and amplifies that of big corporate interests” (“Net Neutrality” 2014, p. 240). ISPs would have the power to silence anyone they do not agree with. Our ability to express ourselves freely will revert back to the days before the internet. Our voices would be controlled by major media corporations and our ability to influence others outside our immediate area would be gone.
Net Neutrality: the free speech issue of our time. [Special issue]. (2014). Vital Speeches of the Day, 80(7), 239-240.