Protecting Net Neutrality protects free speech

Andrew Friel, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Right before Thanksgiving, the FCC announced its intentions to repeal the Obama-era policy of Net Neutrality. The repeal vote is set to take place on December 14, and the effects, if repealed, will be much larger than we can imagine.

Most simply, the policy requires internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all websites on the internet equally, in the sense that they cannot retract what a customer of their service accesses while on the internet. ISPs have noted that if net neutrality is repealed, they have certain websites that they intend to restrict for their users, putting them in a “slow lane” of coverage when said sites are being used.

Many on the conservative side of thinking have said that repealing this would be a positive for the free market and eases government regulation that puts burdens on companies. This is simply an example of my conservative counterparts opposing government for the sake of opposing it.

I once heard an argument from a fellow conservative libertarian that shows the ridiculousness of cutting regulations for the sake of it: With this logic, we should cut child labor regulations because they are government regulations.

I’m all in favor of cutting useless and bureaucratic government regulation that limits the capabilities of businesses in our country; and believe me, there are a lot of those. But Net Neutrality goes beyond just regulating ISPs; it prevents internet customers from having the access they paid for, limited because large companies want to monopolize various internet-based services.

I do not want companies controlling what I can see on the world wide web, which in my view has become a haven of free speech in this country and around the world. The internet has allowed people from all around to shed light on injustice, abuse, and also just to voice their political beliefs from all sides of the spectrum without much restriction in most nations.

I find the proposition that several large companies, with essentially a monopoly on internet service, will soon be able to control how I access a massive free speech forum terrifying, and it seems to signal the beginning of a breakdown of the rights of citizens. This is the way the elitist class will try to control the narrative that they see fit, and this is something that we must stop.

I urge the men and women in Congress on both sides of the aisle, as well as the members of the FCC to vote against the repeal of Net Neutrality regulations. They must realize that our free speech relies on this vote, and without the protection of this right, they will not be doing their job which they have sworn to do; protect our constitutional rights through the use of legislation.