Over the end of 2017, many companies and individuals have waged a campaign to maintain net neutrality. Net neutrality guarantees the equal treatment of data on the internet, so that no website or platform can be promoted or put at faster speeds. Ever since the appointment of a new director of the Federal Communications Commission, the board that upholds net neutrality, republicans have gained a majority. With this majority, there was a serious risk that net neutrality could be repealed. In fact, on December 14, 2017, the FCC voted to get rid of this internet freedom.
In the vote, 3 all republican members opted to remove net neutrality, against 2 democrats who voted to keep it . In doing so, this means that they have sacrificed the freedom that American Citizens have on the Internet. Internet Service Providers (ISP) can now slow down any website they want, as well as block any website they prefer. Another thing they can do to gain more profit is charge their customers in order gain the privilege to visit certain websites at normal speed or at all, and they can do this by creating certain “packages”.
For example, a customer of Frontier Communications can buy a package that allows 20 GB of high speed internet per month. Without Net Neutrality, Frontier Communications can legally also make it part of the package that a customer cannot access certain social media sites. In order to access these sites, they must upgrade their package. Packages with more offers would also cost more.
But how about an ISP practicing something like this even before Net Neutrality was taken away? Verizon currently sells an unlimited data plan that isn’t actually unlimited. Customers with limited data plans get more preference in internet speed over those with the unlimited plan, and this means that the person with an unlimited plan will have their internet throttled. According to the Verizon website, an unlimited plan costs $40.00 per line per month for Go Unlimited, compared to their Beyond Unlimited plan which is $50.00 per line per month. Other cell phone companies only have one type of unlimited plan for one price with all included features. There isn’t much of a difference between these plans, except Go Unlimited is low on the speed priority list. And this is where Verizon makes their extra profit, and in turn, customers are lied to; they are taken advantage of.
One could argue that what Verizon is doing isn’t necessarily bad. Net neutrality is defined as fairness and equality on the internet and equal distribution between websites and applications. In providing two unlimited plans, each with different prices and different preferences regarding network abilities, net neutrality isn’t actually being denied because Verizon is not throttling specific websites upon committing this act. According to the Verizon official website, on the Go Unlimited plan, “In times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic”, while on the Beyond Unlimited plan, “After 22 GB per line, in times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic”. It is clearly stated that they throttle speeds of internet connection when there are too many people online, which is what it means when they say “congestion”. Verizon is doing this as to distribute speeds upon everyone.
But what if Verizon is doing this to give priority to those who pay more? What if they are trying to get people to spend more? Or what if they are doing this for the exact purpose of net neutrality: fairness in data distribution? These are all questions one can ponder, but there cannot be a factual answer until Verizon confirms all of this. In the meantime, American internet freedom is gone, and some people have already seen and experienced this. Slowly but surely, ISP’s are figuring out how they can take advantage of this to get more profit. ISP’s are conspiring against the American people, and what they have been planning to do is in violation of our rights. Because, everything in this day and age is about profit.