Net neutrality was first introduced in 2015 during President Obama's administration. At its core, the concept of “net neutrality” was introduced to ensure that Internet Service Providers (ISP) provide equal access to all online content irrespective of their source. In this manner, net neutrality prevents ISPs from offering preferential treatment to certain sites and it also stops them from blocking specific websites, products and services.
However, in recent months the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal the current US legislation on net neutrality which has sparked outrage from individual users as well as multinational organisations such as Google, Apple and Amazon. These worried parties have argued that repealing net neutrality will enable ISPs such as Comcast and Verizon to dominate the industry; stifling start-ups and smaller businesses by pricing them out of the marketplace.
With net neutrality taking centre stage in the mainstream media in recent months, many students have begun to wonder how this important issue will impact their daily lives and academic studies. Listed below are some of the ways in which the repeal of existing net neutrality legislation could modern impact students:
Reduced access to learning materials
As matter stand, students have access to a vast range of educational resources, interactive media platforms and online tutorial aids. However, many experts have warned that the repeal of net neutrality could prevent students from accessing the educational resources on certain sites. After all, without net neutrality ISPs could charge higher fees for faster loading times that smaller educational sites will not be able to pay. This process could lead to students being unable to access certain resources. As one Study.com article explains;
"Melissa is a second-grade teacher looking for educational videos to show her class. She finds several useful videos on PBS's website, but her ISP has throttled her connection and the videos will not load. Instead, she is forced to find other, less relevant videos on sites that sponsor her ISP. Without net neutrality, Melissa is forced to use inferior tools because she has been denied access to certain sites".
Increased monthly Internet fees
One of the main concerns regarding the repeal of net neutrality is that ISPs will be able to charge individuals users increased fees for access to high speed Internet. As one XXXBios article on "The End of a Free and Open Internet?" highlights;
"The end result would mean that even if you paid a more expensive monthly fee for high speed internet, the loading times of certain websites could still be significantly lower if the site in question did not have a deal with your ISP. For example, if your ISP had a partnership with Netflix then they could slow down the loading times of sites such as Amazon Video in order to make their own TV and movie services more appealing".
The end result could mean higher Internet fees for students who simply wish to view the same websites that they have always visited. Given that students already face substantial loans and accommodation bills, many educators worry that these increased fees could place an increased financial strain on students throughout their college life.
Making your voices heard
A nation-wide poll conducted by the University of Maryland reported that approximately 75% of Republicans, 86% of Independents and 89% of the Democrats surveyed were in favour of net neutrality. These concerned parties argue that future generations deserve an equal, unbiased access to all resources and applications on the Internet. Fortunately, campaigns groups such as the Electronic Frontier Federation (EFF) have a created a webpage where students can email a form to their local representatives which urges them to commit to using the Congressional Review Act to save the Open Internet Order. Students can also sign petitions such as Battle For The Net which are striving to preserve the original 2015 Open Internet Order.
What are your thoughts on net neutrality and its impact on modern students? Voice your opinions in the comments section below!