Net Neutrality: students and businesspeople value free expression

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In June 2016, the federal court ruled that internet providers need to keep their services compliant with the Federal Communications Commission, and their concept of “Net Neutrality.” As such, the internet is now being considered as a utility, similar to water and electricity.

Since the ruling, public interest in the issue has seemed to increase. Jacob Schmezler, a UW-Fox freshman, believes the communication internet provides is necessary in a world more connected than ever.

“People need to be able to get in contact with other people in the world, I feel,” Jacob Schmezler, a UW-Fox freshman, said. “The world is very connected in that way.”

“I feel that a utility is typically regulated heavily, and the more anything is regulated, the less value it provides.” Paul Vande Ven, director of solutions architecture for Capital Data, said. “The more red tape there is, the less competition there is.”

With the growing connectivity of our world, the issue continues to draw the attention and concern of the population.

“Every aspect of what we do in our days, in one way or another, involves internet in some way,” UW-Fox Freshman Zac Higgins said.

UW-Fox students frequently use the internet to complete assignments and to collaborate with peers and professors. • photo by Quintin Stuyvenberg

“In my opinion, the internet should always be the freest form of communication and the most unregulated form of communication on the planet. I don’t feel that creating a utility of the internet, like they would water or electricity, would really keep it as an open, free market type of medium,”  Vande Ven said.

But despite this increase in internet-based connections, the internet can still be thought of as something not necessary.

“I think the internet is as much a necessity as cable TV. I believe that it is a great need, but to me a necessity is things like food, shelter, water.” Vande Ven said. “I am in the technology field, and I know more technologists out there that don’t even have Facebook, because it’s more distracting to your day-to-day life than it is an enhancement. We still have libraries, and there are plenty of places you can go for free internet, so that if you really needed it, you can get it as a complimentary offering through cafes and other places.”

The UW-Fox library is one place where students have access to free, public internet. • photo by Quintin Stuyvenberg

The modern world is going through a number of changes in the present, moving into a technology-dependent era, but it doesn’t need to be integrated into every aspect of our lives.

“The reality is most people communicate through the means of the internet, but you can get cell phones that can text without internet and still provide that communication. Net Neutrality is just another form of regulation, and I feel regulators need to just keep their hands out of the internet,” Vande Ven said.

Culture is undoubtedly moving towards a technology- and internet-centered way of life. As such, the need for the service has become needed for some individuals.

“I think there are businesses and different industries that have legitimate needs for functioning as a business for internet services, and those people are supporting businesses on the internet. There should be a way to pay for more bandwidth if you need it,” Vande Ven said.

Human society has comfortably settled into having the internet be a defining part of much of their lives. And as far as human history is concerned, no amount of human knowledge, information and experiences have been as readily available to the population. As such, experts say it could be beneficial for this service to not be restricted and restrained.

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