Brust: Fear not, there’s hope for net neutrality

Allec Brust

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.  

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 Thursday to repeal rules regulating the companies that connect consumers to the internet–granting broadband companies power to manipulate content to their own preferences. The FCC hides under phrases like “transparency’ and “saving broadband,” but in reality, they are flipping the bird to the little guy in the name of big business. 

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The Collegian previously commented on the potential damages from the move that could affect our student newspaper and the general population, so I will spare the intricate details. In the end, this is going to restrict internet access based on your service provider. Companies willing to pay high rates to certain ISPs will get faster service and small companies and websites will not be able to compete, or even make a mark on the current market. Websites like the Collegian will be swept to the side and visitors will experience slower speeds or be blocked entirely. Repealing net neutrality is a nuanced way of giving companies an advantage over the little guy, and every internet-using American. 

But, let’s not freak out just yet. The FCC is not the end all be all–certainly, they have been disregarding the general opinion of Americans. A November Politico poll revealed that 56 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans were in favor of net neutrality. It is obvious: The general population wants a free internet.

The FCC has the privilege to dismiss public opinion, however, Congress has a duty to adhere to what the people want.  

What happens to net neutrality is completely up to our courts and Congress. The current laws on net neutrality passed in 2015 allow for significant finagling at the hands of the FCC as long as they act “justly and reasonably.” The FCC is doing just the opposite by stepping beyond their power as a government agency. The FCC is not only weakening and changing their interpretation of net neutrality, they are completely abolishing it. The FCC is simply not law. 

This is a good thing. The FCC can do whatever they please but have to deal with repercussions and revisions. The FCC is already getting slammed with lawsuits from multiple interest groups and individuals. It is up to our courts to rule on the constitutionality of this repeal. Then, it is up to congress to establish laws that protect citizens from manipulative corporate greed at the hands of the FCC. Either that, or congress can utilize the Congressional Review Act to reverse the FCCs attempts. The American Civil Liberties Union and affiliates are currently pushing for congressional review. 

So, at this point, its time to sit back and see how our government handles this disregard for public opinion. The beauty of democracy is checks and balances, and our government has a duty to act constitutionally. The FCC is violating the constitution and greatly overstepping its legal boundaries. Congress will see this and, hopefully, utilize the Congressional Review Act to revise net neutrality laws to protect a free internet. If Congress does not act quickly, then we will see how it plays out in the courts. 

The ACLU has an excellent explanation of net neutrality and how the repeal will effect us. Congress will protect us from this obvious violation of constitutional rights. In the event that they do not, the public must continue to push our governing bodies to act in our best interest. 

You can join the Battle for the Net at www.battleforthenet.com. 

Collegian Opinion Editor Allec Brust can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online @allecbrust.

 

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