[A guest post by Bob Hand]
If you pay any attention to social media, you’ve likely noticed a resurgence of complaints regarding the elimination of regulations concerning “net neutrality” — the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) should not be allowed to restrict or block access to specific apps or services.
There is a reason for this ongoing discussion: Ajit Varadaraj Pai, the current Chairman of the FCC, wants to dismantle these regulations. Despite the fact that millions upon millions of Americans are against this action, Pai has the power to succeed in these efforts. Understandably, this has caused an uproar.
But how does this apply to you? How would the elimination of net neutrality regulations affect your life? Here are just a few examples of why you should care. If Pai succeeds:
Education Will Be Hindered
Do you have children who go to school? If so, you should be concerned. Throughout their lives, the next wave of students — Generation Alpha — will encounter technological advancements and marvels that we can only speculate about today. As such, it is imperative that students stay up-to-date with the latest technology. While K-12 schools typically strive to incorporate current technology into the classroom, hindered internet speeds will have a severe impact on the efficacy of technology-centered instruction — especially for low-income communities.
This could lead to some severe consequences. In modern society, technological skills are a necessary component to employability. Depriving students of these skills will lead to a widening of the skills gap, leading to further joblessness and the outsourcing of related occupations in the US.
Online Communities Will Fracture
Many of us socialize (sometimes even primarily) online; indeed, many couples today first meet through online forums or services. If you take part in an online community, the death of net neutrality may impact your ability to access it, unless the site owner is able to pay for appropriate service speeds.
While this has the positive effect of potentially shutting down shady dark web transactions, it also prohibits free speech, in a sense. Conventional social services like Facebook and Twitter will very likely remain unaffected, but more fringe or unregulated forums will likely be difficult to access, if not completely shuttered.
You Can Say Goodbye to Wi-Fi
Unless you have an unlimited data plan, you probably rely on Wi-Fi for many functions on your mobile devices. These connections would also be affected by the death of net neutrality.
Because net neutrality will lead to slower internet speeds for certain apps and services, your ability to make use of a Wi-Fi connection on the go will be restricted. For example, if your favorite map app developer can’t afford to pay a fee to your ISP, you may be forced to switch to an alternative that does. Some services, such as Wi-Fi calling (which is usually clearer than a traditional cellular network call), may become less reliable.
These are only a few of the less frequently discussed ways that the elimination of net neutrality regulations could affect your life. As you go about your daily life, it can be difficult to muster any enthusiasm to fight for something that seems to have no bearing on your life. But it does. By reading about these possibly imminent changes, you’ve hopefully gained some desire to prevent internet service providers from taking such control of your internet activity. If you want to join the effort, let your voice be heard by filing a complaint with the FCC.