Yes to net neutrality

It’s 2015. If we were to make a list of all the things that we need to survive, the Internet would be ranked pretty high up there with fresh water and electricity.

Surfing the web has become so routine that we don’t even think twice about it; we just do it. We click, scroll, type, tap and swipe until our eyes hurt.

Thanks to the Internet, we now have access to opportunities that 50 years ago, we could only dream about. Why is it possible? Most Internet providers have adhered to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rules about “net neutrality.”

Think of the Internet as an information superhighway. It’s always bustling with trafficsome sites more so than others.

Net neutrality refers to the principle that Internet service providers (ISP) should treat all online “traffic” equally.

So, what does this mean for us? Most Internet users get their access from a few key telecommunications giants like AT&T, Verizon or Comcast.

Per the FCC’s net neutrality rules, these corporations aren’t allowed to play favorites. This means that access to certain sites cannot be purposefully slowed down or blocked entirely.

For example, Comcast—which owns NBC Universal and controls the Internet for over twenty million people—cannot “speed up” user access to its own online television streaming sites or “slow down” access to its direct competition, Netflix.

Picture an Internet without these rules in place: major ISPs could force other, smaller businesses to pay a fee in order to get access to the Internet’s “fast lane.” Maybe Netflix can afford it, but it’s highly unlikely that any smaller, low-budget startup companies will be able to.

At the end of the day, it’s true that we might take the Internet itself for granted, but we should not and can not allow major corporations to take away our online freedom. ISPs should never have the right to restrict who gets access to the busy consumer markets or to pick winners and losers when it comes to online traffic.

Today, the Internet is a public good. As important as it is to our society, we owe it to ourselves to ensure its success. Net neutrality aims to do just that.