Net Neutrality

Meredith Comas, Opinions Editor

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The internet: some argue it has become like a drug, others argue it is a necessity for a society advancing in technology.

For many people, especially students including those here at Manhattan High, the freedom of the internet has become a vital aspect of life. People have grown accustomed to free access to websites and the ensurance that speeds won’t be tampered with, protected by the Obama-era policy of net neutrality  —  the principle that service providers must treat all data on the internet the same and charge regardless of user or content. The Federal Communications Commission, currently controlled by a Republican majority, will vote on Dec.14 to end net neutrality , changing the internet as many know it to be.

Ending net neutrality  will allow service providers to capitalize off the internet and the websites people use. The internet could become much more like cable, allowing people to subscribe to certain “packages” that include access to certain websites. Service providers will be allowed to favor, if you will, certain users depending on which service plan they have.

This creates the possibility of creating companies like Netflix — among others which continue to slowly replace cable — that offer a selection of websites instead of film entertainment for a small payment rather than average service payment, adding to a business boom.

Not to fret, however, according to Wired.com — a monthly American print and online publication that focus on how technological advancements will effect culture, economy and politics — the more likely scenario will be that there is a gradual shift in how providers offer their plans to consumers.

Regardless of the business benefits, people across the internet are outraged. The ending of net neutrality  creates the possibility of no longer having access to needed, as well as recreational, websites. Those who can’t afford the better service plans with access to needed websites would be blocked out of sites with an academic or non-recreational purpose.

Not only that, but right now the internet has the ability to connect anyone and everyone through the luxury that is and will be social media. Without net neutrality , though, social media may become limited to those with a little extra cash.

However, for students — assuming they have school internet restrictions like Manhattan High — there is a possibility that life won’t be all that different. The school already restricts half of the digital world, so there won’t much of a loss if a subscription block is added to the firewalls many schools already employ.

It is the agreement of The Mentor editorial board that, while ending net neutrality  has both its pros and cons, the situation is ultimately blown out of proportion by the fact that no one actually knows exactly what will happen.

Yeah, a business boom may ensue and there is a possibility of loss of internet access for certain people, but it comes down to the fact that these are all just possibilities, nothing is ensured.

Instead of simply stressing about what may happen, now is the time to be speaking out about what should happen, about what the people, want to happen.

Net neutrality  may end, in fact it most likely will, but that doesn’t mean the voices end, it doesn’t mean now is the time to give up, stop educating ourselves and waste away like free internet. Utilize the time left with free internet, educate and speak out. Be the free people; be heard.

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