If we take a look at the history of the information and communication industries, big corporations, like AT&T for example, have always been in control of how we access these utilities. They’re the ones that physically control all the pipes that allow us to do things like call each other from across the country or keep up with the latest news stories.


Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

These monopolies have always wanted to keep the industry in the palm of their hand, preventing consumers or the average individual from having any say in their business model. With the invention of the personal computer and the Internet at the end of the twentieth century, consumers were granted the opportunity to have access to any information we wanted, without being confined to the reins of these monopolies. However, with the recent repeal of net neutrality in December of 2017, we are at a crucial moment in time that could possibly put an end to our freedom as Internet users.

According to Save The Internet, Net Neutrality is described as:

“The basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use.”

Tim Wu discusses in his novel The Master Switch how the invention of the Internet has played a key role in decentralizing power in the communications industry, giving ordinary people unlimited access to information they never previously had (Wu 276).  


Big Little Lies, a popular HBO series

Personal computers and the Internet are different forms of new technology, in comparison to the telephone, radio or television, because they have provided us with the tools to access virtually anything we want or need. If you want to know any fact or piece of information, instead of making the trip to the nearest library and finding a book, all you have to do is “Google it” and you’ll have your answer at the tip of your fingers within seconds. If you’re feeling like binge watching a juicy drama, subscribe to HBO and you’ll have instant access to numerous, award-winning TV show series without any commercial interruptions. However, without net neutrality, our monopolistic service providers are once again granted the ability to control all of our access to this content that was freely given to us before.

 Our world of accessing media has largely turned into a world all about convenience due to the invention of these technologies. As I’m writing this post we are without power, due to a nor’easter storm that just came through, and everyone on campus seems to be slightly distraught without having the Internet. To be without this commodity for periods of time is something that rarely happens to our generation. It’s crazy to see the side effects after we have all been so use to having instant access to this utility we take for granted.

That being said, it’s important to recognize that this idea of being able to freely browse the Internet without any restrictions or blockage of content by service providers may be shortly coming to an end. We may not see any of the effects now, as net neutrality was just recently trashed by our new government, however, we must remember that as paying consumers of this valuable utility we call the Internet, we should remain conscious of our rights and be aware of this new form of control about to take place once again.


Photo courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation




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