The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced its plans to eliminate key net neutrality regulations next week, according to the Washington Post. This decision marks the end of the internet as a platform for democracy within the United States.
De-regulating the internet will allow service providers to charge different rates for select websites. For example, certain news sites like the New York Times and CNN could cost more to access than some of their counterparts. This discrepancy in cost could lead to a change in the way we access information. In an age where the president has publicly denounced media outlets for pushing “fake news,” it is important for each citizen to have unfettered access to the troves of information provided by the internet. Under the FCC’s proposed ruling next week, this could all change.
Democracies are founded upon the idea of providing a voice for the people, but democracy is only effective when the people are informed. By stifling the speed and access of the internet for those who are not able to afford the increased charges, the FCC is essentially stifling the ability of the American people to stay informed.
In light of Congress’s tax bill which will institute a sweeping tax cut for the upper echelon of American society, it has become increasingly important for everyone to have access to information. If the internet becomes just another arena for corporations to lobby for political control, where will there ever be another space to level the proverbial playing field? How can the American ethos revolve around free speech and free expression if our government allows the single most accessible mode for speech and communication — the internet — to come under the control of a select few corporations? How can we stand idly by while our ability to consume and produce content without restraint is stripped away?
Information should not be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The internet should remain a free space for our citizens to participate in national discourse because the fate of our democratic process is dependent on the ability of our citizens to access information freely. The actions of the FCC will jeopardize our access to information and our democratic way of life.
Money should not interfere with free speech, and “fake news” will be the only news, under the FCC’s proposed changes.
This week’s staff editorial was written by two executive editors of the Collegian, editor-in-chief Bailey Blaker ’18 and managing editor Lauren Eller ’18. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.