The internet is the beginning of our generation’s future. It is a place for discussion, education, research, entertainment and more. People in homes and mobile devices connect to the internet via an Internet Service Provider (ISP), after paying an amount depending on the speed of their connection or the amount of data that can be received. Currently, most of the internet is uncensored, meaning a government cannot regulate the content a user of the internet can view. Over the past few years, discussion rises over why an ISP or government regulating specific websites and applications would be bad for the internet’s future. Internet neutrality or for short net neutrality is a principle to protect the free speech of the internet. This topic is essential to me because I have interests in computers and plan to have a career in the computer science field. Before my research, I knew about certain services that recently violated this act, and the goal of internet neutrality.
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I now know internet neutrality is based on internet censorship, extra revenue companies earn, and organizations that keep the internet an open area.
Internet censorship consists of a government or company blocking content such as applications or websites from a person’s browser. In a way, this blocks users’ freedom of speech and expression on the internet. This practice is seen as a positive by some parents, considering it would be in most parents interests to prevent children from accessing inappropriate material. Inappropriate material can be pornography, which has shown to increase the amount of underage sex (Barrett). Currently, China is an example of what the United States does not want the internet to become. Referenced as the “Great Firewall of China”, the country can block websites, politics that are negative to their government, and any topic the country feels they should block from their users of the internet (Denver).
Companies can and will earn extra money from controlling their own internet. T-Mobile, a cell phone carrier became a great example of a violation on network neutrality. T-Mobile began to release a program called “Binge-On” which let users stream certain music and video services at a lower quality without counting against their data plan. The option to turn this feature off and receive high quality video was available. Many of the users thought it was a great idea. While they were getting content essentially free, little did users know that T-Mobile would plan to introduce new cellular plans one year later in August 2016 called T-Mobile ONE. These new plans and policies would restrict the option to toggle their Binge-On program. The only method to receive higher quality video was to pay more money in addition to the custom-er’s plan; this in turn proves how companies earn extra revenue from this prioritization practice. Jeremy Gillula from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a company promoting net neutrality, agrees in that T-Mobile “runs directly afoul of the principle of net neutrality” (Swanner). Members among T-Mobile forum sites outraged, and late September 2016 T-Mobile revised their policy to make it an opt-out service and posted a letter regarding internet neutrality on their main website. Another Company guilty of this practice is Verizon. A journalist from Huffington Post was sent a message on Twitter claiming his tablet could not be used on Verizon’s network, only because it was not a Verizon product. The tablet had the exact same cellular hardware as any other, only it was not Verizon branded. This was an obvious ploy for customers to pay Verizon for the tablet. Part of the net neutrality agreement states that “Licensees (carriers) offering service on spectrum subject to this section shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee’s C Block network”, which defines as Verizon the licensee, restricting the ability of a customer(Jarvis). All companies held guilty used practices that would help earn more revenue for the company on hand.
With the fight for money internet freedom, FCC votes have taken place to reject censorship on the government’s side. Luckily, organizations created for this purpose have donation funds, and E-Mail lists to notify users against acts like this. E-mails are usually sent with a small paragraph containing the issue on hand, how this will affect the internet if passed, and the precautions the enlistee can take. Organizations such as savetheinternet, Internet Freedom Coalition, This Is Net Neutrality, Battle for The Net, and Open Secrets all exist for the fight on internet neutrality. Thirty-five organizations and nineteen countries agree to protect net neutrality. All countries’ representatives of their net neutrality programs all said the goal of their participation was to “protect” the internet (Global Coalition Launches Internet Net Neutrality Website).
Overall, I have found out about internet censorship, the extra revenue companies earn from prioritizing services, and organizations that can help keep the internet open. As I continue my education and begin to pursue my career in computing, I personally hope that net neutrality does not take a turn for the worse as I grow up. Through my research, I have found the i pacts of net neutrality, why it should be promoted, and how I can participate in the events as I go into my career of computing technologies.