California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Internet neutrality at risk for change

    The Internet, for as long as most of us can remember, has always been accessible and for the most part, free of cost outside of a service fee.

    But what if the service providers with the most money, the providers who could pay to make their Internet access faster than all other providers, controlled the Internet?

    YouTube, Netflix and other Internet based favorites would slow down and might even require extra fees for use.ย  Unfortunately, this picture may become a reality.

    Last month, Verizon appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, arguing against the Federal Communications Commissionโ€™s regulations.

    The FCC was enforcing net neutrality, which basically keeps all Internet providers on the same level so that the richer and bigger enterprises cannot make their Internet services faster than their competitors.

    This also keeps those providers from restricting the amount of information we can access from them, or vice versa, and promote only the information that they want us to see.

    The court ruled that the FCC does have the power to uphold net neutrality, but not in the overbearing way it has been since 2010.

    For now, while the FCC revamps its regulation guidelines, these big named platforms are preparing for what will happen if the FCC does not reach an agreement with the court.

    Netflix, for instance, has already made a deal with Comcast in order to โ€œensure the subscription serviceโ€™s movies and TV shows stream seamlessly,โ€ according to the Los Angeles Times.

    The deal struck between the two may result in faster video streams, but everything has a price. Which, in this case, will be higher service fees for both Comcast and Netflix.

    This is a big issue that should matter to our generation.ย  As of now, we have the freedom to access information we are looking for at generally fast speeds.ย  But, how would we feel if that was taken from us?

    โ€œIn a way weโ€™re all going to be affected because it gives huge corporate entities increased power to control information that we have access to,โ€ said Sharon Docter, who has a doctorate in communication theory and research.

    โ€œNet neutrality is a good thing.ย  Certain interests shouldnโ€™t dominate the Internet. There are some resources that we all should hold in common that shouldnโ€™t be allowed to be privatized and enclosed,โ€ said Russell Stockard, who has a doctorate in communication.

    Weโ€™ve grown up accustomed to accessing online sites relatively quick and for free.ย  But, without a neutral net, providers would be able to charge their clients to use their much faster Internet streams.

    Therefore, sites like Netflix and YouTube, may end up charging us to cover those fees.ย  In the end, we will be feeling the effects of non-regulated Internet, as well.

    โ€œI think in our generation we take everything for granted.ย  Most of us are coming of age where we have to pay our own bills and if you have to pay more for certain things, like Netflix, thatโ€™s going to hurt our pocket books and kind of put us in check,โ€ said Dennis Arteaga, CLU information systems and services student tech supervisor.

    Students complain about Internet speed on campus as it is.ย  So, imagine what our Internet would look like if only a few providers had fast connections.

    โ€œHere on campus in the evenings, there is a noticeable Internet speed drop because people are using things like Netflix all at once.ย  If we donโ€™t have net neutrality, those services could be even slower,โ€ Arteaga said.

    Is this an issue that we should be concerned about?ย  If you care not only about unrestricted Internet access and consumer rights, but also our global standing, then the answer should be yes.

    โ€œWe should care because itโ€™s going to effect access to information,โ€ Docter said.ย  โ€œIn the global economy that we live in, access to information is critical, so itโ€™s going to affect our ability to compete on the global marketplace.โ€

    The bottom line is that most of us have taken our Internet privileges for granted and we do not want to find out what a regulated net would be like before it is too late.

    โ€œA neutral net would be one of those things that you wouldnโ€™t miss it until itโ€™s gone,โ€ Stockard said.ย  โ€œThe people getting the most use out of the Internet are going to feel the loss more drastically.โ€

    The next time you are on the Internet, think about all the sites you visit.ย  Would you be OK if you had to pay for them or if you couldnโ€™t access them at all?

    If not, maybe now would be the time to voice your support to the FCC.ย  Sign petitions, write letters, do anything you can think of to let the courts know that you stand behind the idea of an open, equal Internet.


    Jase Magarifuji
    Staff Writer
    Published Feb. 26, 2014