Dayeon Hwang Hollywood HGM 11th Grade
On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the Republican party passed its Chairman’s (Ajit Varadaraj Pai) plan to repeal net neutrality, a policy which has caused ISPs to provide full access to all Internet data and allowed netizens to surf the web without restriction. If this FCC vote favoring the annulation of net neutrality is not repealed, ISPs, such as Verizon and AT&T, could potentially limit online access to websites and applications deemed to be political or economic rivals. Telecommunications companies could manipulate loading speeds of pages all across the Web and discriminate based on marketing companies’ willingness to pay for favorable treatment. This regulation of currently available Internet data could prevent the average American exposure to full, uncensored content and ultimately restrict activist groups from practicing their freedom of speech. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution reads:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The decision to repeal net neutrality could prove to be especially devastating for communities that have taken to the Internet to spread news on ongoing injustice and protests. Often underrepresented in media, these communities (e.g., the LGBT community, racial minorities, religious minorities, etc.) could be losing an entire platform in which to expose discrimination and gain supporters. Censorship of this content, which is a serious threat following the recent repealment of net neutrality, contradicts the conditions of the First Amendment and is, therefore, unconstitutional. Net neutrality protected the people’s right to exercise free speech and view uncensored press; revoking it could result in a complete violation of the First Amendment by ISPs abusing their new-found power.
Not only has net neutrality allowed people to share and browse complete content, it has also helped members of communities often inadequately represented by commercial media outlets to assemble in protest and spread awareness of their cause. Therefore, nullifying the implementation of net neutrality could also make it more difficult for “people peaceably to assemble.” Activist groups that are already being sidelined today could potentially become totally invisible in the eyes of the general public by tomorrow.
<Dayeon Hwang Hollywood HGM 11th Grade