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With the Federal Communications Committee planning on voting to repeal current net neutrality regulations in December, BVNW students will have to make adjustments to their current internet usage. Editor Anna Cowden gives a rundown of what neutrality is and why it is being repealed.
November 27, 2017
Despite technology playing a vital role in students’ lives, the knowledge surrounding net neutrality is largely not understood. Fifty one percent of BVNW students surveyed have never heard of net neutrality, according to a survey conducted by BVNWnews.com.
Senior Griffith Stites said the lack of knowledge about net neutrality is a problem.
“It’s a very important issue and I don’t think very many people know about it,” Stites said. “If people our age don’t know anything about it, how would the senators or representatives that many of which are 50 plus years old know anything about it? A lot of them don’t.”
As of now, the internet is in a “wild west” period, according to Blue Valley Chief Information Officer Brian Daley. Net neutrality makes sure internet traffic cannot be manipulated by internet service providers, such as AT&T, Time Warner or Google Fiber. For example, ISPs are not allowed to deliberately slow down sites, favor some internet traffic over others, or engage in harmful practices that go against the Federal Communications Committee (FCC)’s current policy on internet openness, Title II.
Title II was passed in 2015 to keep the internet equal and regulated the internet as a utility, like electricity.
However, this may soon change.
The Federal Communications Commission plans on voting to repeal the current net neutrality regulations Dec. 14.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai said he wants to return the internet to its pre Title II state where the internet is regulated based on a light touch framework.
Pai said in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that a light touch framework approach lifts regulations, encourages competition and ultimately helps the economy.
“Encouraged by light-touch regulation, private companies invested over $1.5 trillion in nearly two decades to build out American communications networks,” Pai said.
The new plan will also require ISPs to provide information on their services and management policies to the consumers.
In an email response to BVNWnews’ request for an interview, Sen. Pat Roberts argued the policy is outdated and stifles investment profits.
“In May of this year, the FCC voted to begin the process of rolling back heavy-handed Internet regulations first applied to the Internet in 2015 when, under pressure from the Obama White House, the agency voted along party lines to apply 1930s telephone regulations to thousands of small and large companies that provide Internet service,” Roberts said. “This was a stark change of course from the light-touch regulatory structure first established by the Clinton administration in 1996 that was responsible for the tremendous communications revolution that followed.”
Daley said if net neutrality is repealed, it will affect how students use the internet. Since Blue Valley uses AT&T as their ISP, AT&T would be able to dictate students’ paths on the internet.
“They would be able to, depending on who you were or what provider you had, throttle your bandwidth [or] give you less bandwidth than somebody next door that paid a little more. They would have greater access to that same content on the internet,” Daley said.
Library Media Specialist Craig Odle said he worries about students’ access to the internet if broadbands are able to favor certain internet content.
“From our perspectives as librarians, what we’re really concerned about here is the news and the information you’re able to get to,” Odle said. “One of the things they could do is almost make a little bit of a monopoly of what gets through. That’s potentially dangerous.”
Stites said it would be harder to access popular sites if net neutrality was repealed.
“We all watch Netflix,” Stites said. “If [ISP’s] were able to say ‘you have to pay extra to use Netflix because you’re using a lot of Netflix, that would affect all of us. It could also affect our ability to communicate and access information.”
Stites said he expresses his disliking for the possible repeal by calling the Kansas senators and congressmen through the website battleforthenet.com.
“You enter your phone number and it directs you to all your representatives and your senators,” Stites said. “You can call them and you can hassle them every single day. Although they probably won’t change their vote, if enough people do it it’ll make them think twice.”