Thoughts on Net Neutrality

Perhaps nothing better reveals the failures of the neoliberal ideology of fundamentalist capitalism than the deregulation of internet services in the United States. Free-marketeers who propose this completely deregulated capitalism claim to do so in the name of competition and the belief that privatization ultimately works in the benefit of the consumer, as governments are too incompetent to run public services. But in reality, this deregulation has led to market monopolies that have no incentive to work in the interest of the consumer. When profit is the only incentive, corners are cut and the public is at a disadvantage.

Additionally, the Obama administration’s refusal to reverse a Bush administration policy declaring the Internet an information service as opposed to a telecommunications is ignorant of the ways in which the internet has evolved in terms of what people are using it for. I would argue that many people nowadays use the internet as a means of telecommunication through services such as online messaging, email, social media, etc. Even texting between iPhones operates online through iMessage, so in many ways, the internet is used for the same things that traditional telecommunications services provide.

Even if we keep with the definition of the internet as an information service, should the dissemination of information really be privatized? For-profit mainstream media clearly hasn’t worked out in the public interest, with corporate agendas dominating the central narrative of U.S. society, something many western European nations have been able to avoid by their support of public broadcasting. The American public needs to realize their dissatisfactions with the effects of the privatization of information services and see that these same debates apply to the internet and the discourse regarding net neutrality. Getting rid of net neutrality will risk the public-interest incentive and push a lot of the information we use to counteract the mainstream media off the grid. And now, with a Republican government led by Donald Trump to take effect in January, there needs to be a grassroots movement against the deregulation of internet services that is inclusive to members of all ends of the political spectrum, because a monopolized internet service will only work to serve the companies who run it, with little to no regard for what the public demands and deserves.

 

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