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Payton Turner

MWF 1:00-1:50

March 1, 2016

Assignment 1

Net Neutrality by definition is “the concept that broadband Internet service providers

should provide nondiscriminatory access to Internet content, platforms, etc., and should not

manipulate the transfer of data regardless of its source or destination (Dictionary.com).” So, in

simpler terms, net neutrality provides everyday citizens of the world uninhibited by internet

providers such as Comcast and AT&T.

According to Grant Gross, a senior editor for PC World, the real fight for net neutrality

began in February of 2004. In 2004, the United States Federal Communications Commission

(also known as the FCC) had been debating for months on an idea of net neutrality, which was a

result of broadband providers selectively blocking and slowing some areas of internet traffic. The

Chairman of the FCC at the time, Michael Powell, came up with four main “internet freedoms,”

which consisted of freedom to access content, freedom to use apps, freedom to attach personal

devices, and the freedom to obtain service plan information.

The fight against big business itself for net neutrality began in 2005 when the FCC

adopted the net neutrality policy. Of course, big businesses were furious about this and

complained for several years. AT&T has been particularly unhappy about the net neutrality

policy. Though in 2011, the digital rights group Free Press filed a lawsuit against the net

neutrality policy, claiming that their rules were too weak. (Gross)

Ultimately, net neutrality (also sometimes referred to as an open internet) is a good thing.
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A closed internet would be severely detrimental to American and global democracy as big

business would form an oligopoly on the web, and therefore use it to restrict the people's access

to factual information.

Though, it does go without saying that there are some downsides to an open and

unrestricted Internet. An open internet does make it easier for people to illegally download

music, software, tv shows and movies, which of course severely hurts the profit of the maker

who produced the product. Video and music streaming sites such as YouTube and Netflix also

clog up the internet with insanely high amounts of data.

On the other hand, imagine just what would happen without an open internet. Big

business would own large sections and could ultimately decide what you can see, hear, read,

research, and learn. True news and information could be restricted by those who believe that lies

(or, in some cases, ‘alternative facts’) are the truth, or because they have an underlying agenda. A

closed internet is a recipe for the spread of false news and propaganda. A closed network would

require innovators of websites (such as Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook) to have to

pay a fee to get his website to even appear on specific internet providers networks, and would

have to pay even more to get it to work. (Lee)

Another way to think about this is to think of the world right now, specifically America

and North Korea. America, representing an open internet, allows freedom of press, speech, and

information. Some illegal things, such as illegal downloads in the case of net neutrality,

occasionally occur, it is mainly restricted to a particular area - in Internet terms this is known as

the deep web.

The deep web is “the portion of the Internet that is hidden from conventional search
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engines, as by encryption; the aggregate of unindexed websites”(Dictionary.com) - and with the

proper tools and skill level, it can be stopped and justice implemented

Now, think about North Korea, representing a closed internet, which has a vice-like grip

on the information, press, and speech. Anything that the dictator doesn’t like or agree with is not

accepted and is denied access to his people, and the bit that does find its way out to the public is

swiftly ripped away and destroyed. Only what the dictator wants the public to see, hear, research,

or learn is what they will find.

Now, if you look at our current period here in America, our current president, Donald

Trump, seems to be leaning more on the side of big business and against net neutrality. During

the time of President Obama, the FCC passed several regulations that strengthened net neutrality.

Now, in 2017, Trump has selected Ajit Pai to be the next chair of the FCC. Pai has in the past

shown blatant opposition to net neutrality, and he has said that he is ready to “fire up the weed

whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job

creation.”(Lee)

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Republicans have the majority in both Congress and the

FCC which means that Democrats and other liberal groups have little to no power to fight back

against Republicans gutting the net neutrality rules. Though this process will be long, and the

liberal groups won’t go down without a fight, and this will be a ruling that could take several

years to reach a conclusion.

For journalism and news, a closed internet could spell disaster. With big businesses

restricting websites (yes, even accredited news sites) it could be extremely difficult for people of

America, and very possibly eventually the world, to access true news. Fake news that could be

favored by the big businesses could be pushed to the forefront and made so that everyone paying
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for their service will see it. Granted, not all businesses that would own the internet might restrict

viewer access to real news, but it is still a distinct possibility.

Under a closed internet, American First Amendment rights will be in jeopardy. A right to

free speech and press could be suppressed or obliterated as big businesses crush all opposition

under the heel of their expensive boots. Good journalists will be restricted or forced to pay even

more in order to put their content on the web so that even a few people will see it. The good

content that does make it on the web that paints businesses in a poor light, will be restricted

heavily or have too high a cost that no one will want to pay.

A closed internet is a terrifying nightmare, which looks to be a nightmare that could

become very real. With the rapidly growing industry of fake news and trust in the media at an

all-time low, it would be unsurprising to see a headline appear on the TV showing that the FCC

has begun to repeal net neutrality. It is there that we will start to see the downfall of our

democracy. We will see a rise in propaganda and fake news, and journalism will plummet into an

age of darkness.

Works Cited

"Net neutrality." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

"Deep web." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
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Gross, Grant. "Net neutrality at the FCC: A brief history." PCWorld. IDG News Service, 05 Sept.

2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Lee, Timothy B. "The FCC's chairman just proposed the strongest network neutrality rules yet."

Vox. Vox, 04 Feb. 2015. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Lee, Timothy B. "Donald Trump just named a net neutrality foe to head the FCC." Vox. Vox, 23

Jan. 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.