Go ahead; cancel your cable plan. You have been thinking about it for years, but now more than ever, there is finally a reason to do it. It is over $60 a month given to a company which does not care about you or your life. However, it is not just cable companies taking advantage of you. It is the federal government too. Both Democratic and Republican presidents limit the growth of small companies by implementing rules to disband net neutrality.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, "net neutrality is the concept that all data traffic on a network should be treated indiscriminately."
In simpler terms, this means internet service providers, such as Comcast or Verizon, should not be able to ban, speed up or slow down the processing of online content without regulation. Without net neutrality, these companies are given an unfair advantage and rig the market in their favor. Thus, larger competitors within the streaming market, like Netflix or Amazon, would have the power to prevent small startups from gaining traction because these larger companies may alter the playback speed of their platforms with their internet service.
One example of this rigging goes back to a 2014 deal between Comcast and Netflix. Edward Wyatt and Noam Cohen from The New York Times explained the agreement consisted of Netflix paying Comcast "for faster and more reliable access to Comcast's subscribers."
This deal was important because this was the first time in internet existence content creators had to pay for access to an internet provider's customers. To ensure the deal would go through, Comcast diminished Netflix's download speed to almost -25% during January 2014, according to the Washington Post's findings posted by Mic writer Matt Essert.
Former President Barack Obama claimed to be in favor of net neutrality, yet he appointed Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries, to be his Federal Communications Commission Chairman. Wheeler lobbied against the very thing Obama said he was in favor of, which only helps those companies more instead of regulating them.
This applies to just Democrats, right? Wrong. During former President Donald Trump's administration, the FCC ruled in October 2020 to repeal net neutrality and asserted its authority to do so in a hearing by Chairman Ajit Pai. Not only did Trump appoint Pai but, according to FOXBusiness, Trump tweeted about the decision calling it "a great win."
However, net neutrality is not just about internet speed, but it concerns its content too. Without these regulations, network providers can censor speech and posts they disagree with. It prevents the right to choose what services you use.
The American Civil Liberties Union mentions in their article on net neutrality an example with AT&T's phone company Cingular Wireless, which prohibits access to PayPal because of its deal with another online payment system. Without regulation, online gamers might find their gaming shut off or added payments to access their favorite games.
So, why do we keep letting this happen? Companies keep getting away with this because of jargon and technical language, which the casual viewer does not bother to read, along with government favorability to the rich forerunners of internet providers.
According to the Johnson City Press, the main arguments in favor of banning net neutrality are that internet service providers, otherwise known as "ISP's," will lose financial motivations, leaving no incentives for such providers to extend their services to the areas which lack high-speed internet access. Thus, people will lose jobs because ISP's will not be able to afford to innovate, and the government should not be able to choose how internet service providers run their business.
However, many of these claims lack any evidence in the possibility to happen because of the immense profits these companies possess. In actuality, there are more pros for everyday Americans in passing neutrality. We should not have to keep paying the price of corporate greed to enjoy our favorite TV shows or movies.
Almost every major production company owns a streaming service, including Disney Plus, Hulu, Prime Video, HBOMax, Peacock TV and now Paramount, and each offers the benefit of variety which cable provides its users but for a reduced price. This is not to say these companies are completely for the people, but if you want to protect your rights and your pocketbook, then support the companies who support net neutrality.