The principle of net neutrality, to treat all online content equally, must be blanketed across all fields of internet access, not just the providers of the service but the companies that control large amounts of it.
Like a knight in shining armor, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is finally bringing this national problem to light.
Seeing as how the internet is the hub of most rhetoric these days, the topic of net neutrality needs to be addressed again and again.
In an op-ed for the Guardian, Franken wrote on the subject of massive tech companies taking advantage of the relaxed rules that are placed on them by the government.
Instead, Franken suggested that companies like Amazon, Twitter and Facebook need to be held to the same standard as internet service providers when it comes to privacy and censorship.
On free speech, Franken echoed the grievances on tech companies that journalists have been voicing for years, especially since the 2016 election.
The power that these tech companies brandished during that time came in the form of censoring and shaping narratives. Twitter and Facebook are some of the best examples of the massive influence that tech companies have in the political field.
Look to the 2014 Facebook scandal and how it purposefully changed posts from friends of users to see how it would influence their moods. After the findings were revealed, the company faced tremendous backlash.
It’s moments like those that point to how terrifyingly powerful these companies are and how much of an influence they have on day-to-day life.
Manipulation at this level has never been done before, and regulating it was an effort that never saw the light of day.
Keeping these companies in line is just as important to free speech and net neutrality as it is to controlling the internet service providers.
This puppeteering isn’t the only thing that tech companies are taking advantage of, as Franken brings up the issue of data mining.
Data mining refers to the act of figuring out a recognizable pattern through an individual’s habits and purchases on the internet.
This violation of privacy goes on all day. Ever wonder why the ads that pop up are extremely relevant to earlier searches?
Franken brings up the fact that most of the revenue that these companies receive is from advertisements, thus it would be in their best interest to hand over certain information from individuals to better advertise.
“Algorithms seem to be a convenient excuse,” Franken writes, and it’s in this type of rhetoric that Facebook and Twitter are holding users hostage.
Instead of treating citizens like customers, they are treating them as commodities; this is not how net neutrality would have it.
If these companies are held to the same standard that internet service providers should be held to, then they would be forced to understand the free market of the internet, something that should never be monopolized.
This fight cannot end. The internet is the ultimate stage for ideas and free speech, and if it is being bought and sold, then it’s useless.
Franken is not the only person who fights for this right, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., has also spoken and questioned representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google quite sternly.
In a Senate Judiciary hearing, Kennedy expressed his concern of the overwhelming power that these companies have and how carelessly they are treating the people who use their website.
This is important to note as it shows that both political parties are finally agreeing on one thing — tech companies have too much power.