Net Neutrality Does Not Protect the Internet for the Working Class
If you are reading this, you are likely aware of the upcoming FCC vote to end Net Neutrality. If you are not familiar with the issue which is causing a bit of a stir on the internet I’ll briefly inform you. Net Neutrality prevents internet service providers (ISPs) from selectively displaying online content to you. If it is destroyed, the fear is that the internet will become similar to cable TV packages wherein you must pay for access to each different part of the internet. The decision to destroy Net Neutrality, it is feared, will make access to the internet as a whole very expensive. Additionally, there have been cases where an ISP has blocked customer access to pro-labor websites when its employees were attempting to unionize. This is not the first time that assaults upon the ‘free’ internet have occurred, SOPA and PIPA immediately come to mind for instance. Previously, however, many websites, including Reddit, Wikipedia and Google, actively fought against SOPA/PIPA. Thus far we have not seen any official statements from the larger websites.
Do we, the consumers, have a chance at preserving Net Neutrality?
No, and even if we did it wouldn’t matter. Stomping on the face of the consumer is easy for businesses to do. We, as consumers, have no ability to boycott the internet monopoly, nor have we the financial means to bribe lawmakers with easy paying jobs when their terms end. That’s the difference between now and then. Then, back when SOPA/PIPA were on the agenda, businesses like Google opposed those bills. Now, the lack of opposition from Google and others indicates that they have very likely secured a guaranteed spot in the ‘basic’ package plan to be offered after Net Neutrality is killed.
But lets assume that the mass call-in campaigns and e-mail and letter writings and protests manage to convince lawmakers to abandon a guaranteed easy retirement after their terms expire. So what? ISPs can still simply charge you more for internet directly rather than needing to go through a cable package plan.
Fighting to preserve the status quo is futile. The only way to advance towards a ‘free’ internet is by fighting for the most radical egalitarianism in internet usage. Free access to the internet for everyone guaranteed as a right. As with health care, as with housing, as with food, as with heating and air conditioning, as with transportation, as with high quality education, the excuse will be made that free internet access is impossible. And they are right. The capitalists are unable to guarantee us, the working class, access to health care, housing, food, heating and air conditioning, transportation, high quality education, or internet. We must guarantee these things to ourselves, for ourselves, and by ourselves, capitalist possibilities be damned.