The Necessity of Free Speech: Net Neutrality as a Voice for the Voiceless

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Source of Photo: TechFrag.com

Although it has appeared in the news as a topic of main concern, Net Neutrality still exists as an anomalous concept for some individuals. For those of you completely unaware of what exactly Net Neutrality is, SaveTheInternet.com defines it as “the Internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online.” This framework is what allows for open networks to exist across the internet, giving us the ability to freely search and access any pieces of information we so choose without the fear of being blocked or prohibited.

Current rule changes have been in discussion for quite some time now, with the possible results being disastrous for internet users. While the rules themselves are extensive in scope, one of the major points made rests in the ability for ISPs to offer new speeds of service and rates for charging. Marguerite Reardon’s article for Cnet.com entitled 13 Things You Need to Know About the FCC’s Net Neutrality Regulation outlines this issue as follows: “Broadband providers will still be able to offer new services and rates, which means they can add a faster tier of service, at a new price, without permission from the FCC.” In turn, this would allow the controlling ISPs to grant access to fast and reliable internet at a much higher cost, while creating a slower, cheaper alternative to accompany it.

As a result of this, it is possible that internet providers will slow down speeds in hopes of making a greater profit from specific websites. This form of “throttling” is clearly depicted during John Oliver’s rant on Net Neutrality during his June 1st, 2014 episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, in which he discusses Comcast and Netflix’s negotiations, during which Comcast throttled the connection speeds for Netflix and sent them plummeting until a resolve was made between the companies. Oliver equates this incident with that of a “mob shakedown,” making the big-money corporations the bullies with complete control over their business.

This is Why We Need Net Neutrality

Source of Photo: The Washington Post

This control gives the major companies immense power over their product, limiting the freedom of those who have access to it. On top of this, it silences the voices of those reaching out for a specific cause, unable to communicate in a timely manner on important topics within the world. In  Zeynep Tufecki’s post on the importance of Twitter on the situations of Ferguson, Missouri, titled What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: Net Neutrality, Algorithmic Filtering, and Ferguson, she outlines the ways in which Twitter proved to be the most useful tool in communicating the shooting of Michael Brown in early August of 2014.

While the incident itself is categorized as world news by now, it did not begin as such. Tufecki acknowledges that the freedom and speed that Twitter gives its users allowed for first-hand accounts of the oppression as well as visual aids to support the evidence, the first coverage to be seen en mass from this series of events. Without the speed and freedom of speech that Net Neutrality gave the people of Ferguson, Missouri — not to mention the inability to block any information from being posted — the community outreach may never have reached others.

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Source of Photos: The Latino Post

Net Neutrality gives us our voice across the internet. It not only protects us from the towering control of the indomitable ISPs, but also from violations to our constitutional freedom of speech. From your own experience with Net Neutrality, what other possible changes do you foresee coming as a result from a new ruling that allow greater control for the ISPs? What could this mean to the future of our own personal right to free speech and the internet’s unwritten rules concerning a freedom from governmental and corporate control? Do you consider the possible negatives of a diminished Net Neutrality to be egregious enough to merit community protest and change, or do you consider it a perpetuation and public showcasing of already-standing procedures (such as the Comcast-Netflix fiasco)?

Introducing: Brandon C.

Hello fellow classmates! My name is Brandon Coulter and I am currently a junior at UM-D majoring in Journalism and Screen Studies and minoring in both Music and Philosophy. After my college career is completely finished, I hope to become a travel writer or even a subject-specific writer/journalist within the fields of music and video games.

As cliché as it may seem for one taking a class entitled Issues in Cyberspace, I have always been thoroughly fascinated by the internet as well as writing and the combination presented within this class immediately drew me in.

Whenever Google Chrome is on my screen, I am usually cycling between movies on Netflix, South Park on Hulu, and Game Grumps on Youtube, with whatever else peaking my interest throughout the day popping up every now and again. I have been able to successfully stay away from my Facebook page pretty much entirely since I created it in order to stop people from asking me to make one, but Twitter is absolutely one of my internet vices. Instead of posting useless information that occurs throughout the day, however, I use Twitter mainly for following bands and musicians as well as other celebrities that I find interesting in order to find out information about them as soon as it happens.

Whenever I am not in class or at work, I do my best to write music for my band Unalaska. We are a metalcore band from Westland, Michigan and we have been writing and recording music for about two years now. I have been playing and writing music for nearly a decade, so the opportunity to create something with my friends has been a great experience since the beginning. I also have a ReverbNation page for my electronic/chiptune side-project I call Eidolith, but I haven’t created any of that for quite some time…

Photo Source: Tanner William Thurman

Aside from music, my other intensely addicting hobby is video games. I am constantly either on my desktop playing something on Steam or on my PlayStation 4 whenever I have free time to relax, and have been successively maintaining this routine since I was about five years old.

One of my major dreams is to be able to travel across the world and discover new and interesting things from different cultures. As a student within the JASS program, I have seen many examples of individuals who were able to do this and this has inspired me to become a travel writer to achieve this dream of mine.

I am excited to get to know all of you more throughout the semester, and I can guarantee that we are going to have a fantastic time with Professor Proctor leading us!

Here are a few songs for anyone interested in my band: