Oh, the internet — an indescribable realm full of cute puppy videos, accessible college courses and graphic cold cases. To so many of us, it is an everyday necessity. It’s our main source of news and information, and it’s an integral part of our everyday lives. The internet should definitely be a free, open place for everyone. And that’s what it was under net neutrality.
However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under President Trump voted to repeal net neutrality almost a year ago. California, as a result, proposed a bill that would implement previous net neutrality laws on the state level, but the Trump administration sued the state the same day, Sept. 30. By limiting the internet’s resources and accessibility, Trump continues to implement policy that is harmful to low-income communities, (such as the tax reform bill of 2017). The lawsuit shows that Trump is in favor of helping big businesses even if that means harming the working class. He, like many Republican lawmakers, have not listened to Republican voters’ pro-net neutrality stance.
Net neutrality is an Obama-era law that would prevent internet providers from charging differently for different domains. Thanks to net neutrality, the internet is a tool against oppression — people of all economic backgrounds have access to the same websites regardless of their finances. Without net neutrality, low-income people would experience slower internet speeds, which would prevent them from accessing the same resources as wealthier people. There would be price hikes due to access fees, paid-prioritization and interconnection deals. These price hikes would make the internet even more inaccessible to low-income communities. The Trump administration suing California over net neutrality demonstrates how they are widening the gap of access to resources between economic classes.
Internet prices and speeds affect our online experience and our ability to access resources. The internet is a way for low-income people to access resources they need in order to survive. People can easily learn how to make resumes, apply to jobs and communicate with employers on the internet — the internet is a necessity in the workforce. By using the internet, they can find resources anywhere that has WiFi.
Limiting low-income people’s access to resources effectively silences them. If net neutrality was repealed, they would not be able to use social media platforms to openly discuss issues. The internet is used as a method to register to vote and learn about political issues, making it difficult for low-income people to have a voice in their government and make informed political decisions if they were denied access to the internet. The repeal would put this group at an even greater disadvantage by forcing them to pay for access to the political conversation.
During his campaign, Trump promised to cut taxes for everyone and support small businesses. The tax cuts were meant to help small operations and companies keep up with the bigger businesses. However, repealing net neutrality demonstrates that he doesn’t care about local families with small businesses. A repeal would mean small businesses would have to pay the equivalent of another tax. It is hypocritical of Trump to say he cares about small businesses when he is implementing a policy that would make them pay more for an invaluable resource. This is an example of Trump going against his campaign promise of helping the working class.
Voters saw Trump as an anti-establishment outsider, but repealing net neutrality allows these large corporate entities to hold power over who can access what. Although Trump was running on a Republican platform, his repeal of net neutrality is against the core Republican value of a free market. Many Republican voters are generally in favor of net neutrality, whereas Republican lawmakers are not. Republican lawmakers are therefore more concerned with following their party line than listening to their constituents.
Trump has shown us that he does not care about low-income people, and his only goal is to help the one percent. It’s important that the internet is available for anyone to use — regardless of how much money they have. The internet allows so many people to keep their online small business running and be able to apply for and find jobs. We need to protect it from large corporations that want to control what we have access to. In order to have an open internet, net neutrality must be restored in the United States. Many other states have passed open-internet policy, but none of them have been as progressive as California. More states need to fight like California to protect their internet.
Mithila Chandra is an undeclared sophomore. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.