Open internet closing up with new FCC chair’s anti-consumer agenda

In Opinion
(Courtesy of Wikimedia)

With President Donald J. Trump’s scandals popping up faster than the resignations of his team members, it’s easy to get distracted from the mess those left behind are making, namely FCC chairman Ajit Pai.

Net neutrality was a concerning topic for Barack Obama during his presidency. The former president maintained the notion that broadband internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all traffic equally and not allow a monopoly of power to be created. This value was backed by progressive actions like agreeing with and pushing the FCC’s rules against an unfair ISP system.

While those values were championed by his administration’s forward-thinking actions, the Trump administration has been adamant in reversing these motions since day one.

It’s clear that the Trump administration has a starkly republican and greedy mindset when it comes to neutrality, as seen with the removal of the “net neutrality” page on the whitehouse.gov website.

Newly elected chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, began his career by making choices that clearly indicate his favoritism for industry over the consumer.

These decisions will directly impact the nearly 90 percent of people using the internet today, according to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, and in no way will the product of Pai’s actions be beneficial for the masses.

One of his first decisions was to cut a federal program aimed to assist low-income areas in acquiring affordable internet access. This act is directly in opposition to the progress that former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler promoted, according to the Washington Post.

This decision has been met with controversy as the effects of this action will trickle into schools partnered with the companies that are now closed and will not be able to give children in low-income schools access to the internet.

It’s decisions like these that will slowly cripple a growing and connected society. As Pai continues to reverse the progress that Obama and Wheeler worked so hard for, the open net is closing up.

The problem lies in the largely complacent public. While protesters focus on subjects like the travel ban, Russian connections and ignorant self-promotion by the Trump family, they might be missing a more important fight: net neutrality.

It sounds like a faraway concern–something out of a sci-fi movie–but the idea that one day the internet could be governed by conglomerates that have nothing in mind but money is getting closer and closer.

If that doesn’t sound tangible, then consider the fact that the Silicon Valley has been thriving on the values that net neutrality outlines. Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and many more are all relying on the idea of an open internet so that their customers can access them easily and quickly.

If the rules were lifted, as Pai is aiming for, then companies can make it harder and much more expensive for people to do something as simple as watch a YouTube video.

Nobody likes a loading screen, and having to pay $5 to $10 a month just to access a webpage doesn’t seem to be something the public would fight for.

Pai’s anti-consumer voice has been met with similarly powerful voices from the NAACP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the National Urban League and more in a Joint Press Statement released on Feb. 7.

The statement explains the principles that net neutrality garners and that they should be met with civility and not greed–as Pai has been doing thus far.

“A statute locking in net neutrality would protect net neutrality no matter how the political winds blow. The goal should be improvement, deployment and adoption of the high speed networks that all Americans deserve,” according to the statement.

The entirely anti-consumer approach that Pai has brought to the FCC under Trump needs to come under as much fire as the big cheese himself.

In 2014, the nearly 4 million comments directed at the FCC concerning the best way to handle net neutrality led to the open internet; a right that Pai is repealing every day by pushing his industry agenda.

While that proposition is likely to never be brought up under Pai’s ruling, it shouldn’t deter those who value the freedom of the internet; the likes of which include the American Civil Liberties Union, Free Press and others. Their efforts are found in raising awareness and not allowing powers like Pai to continue their anti-consumer actions.

The first step in solving this problem is to understand net neutrality, then voicing opposition. So far, the only viable act is signing petitions and staying on the tail of those who aim to undermine the values that the internet represents: freedom.

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