Daily 49er

The Internet is in danger — but you can help

Without access to the free flow of web-based information, students’ education will also slow down.

Federal+Communications+Commission+Chairman+Ajit+Varadaraj+Pai+testifies+on+Wednesday%2C+July+19%2C+2017+before+the+U.S.+Senate+Committee+on+Commerce%2C+Science%2C+and+Transportation+on+Capitol+Hill+in+Washington%2C+D.C.+%28Ron+Sachs%2FCNP%2FZuma+Press%2FTNS%29
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Varadaraj Pai testifies on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Ron Sachs/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Varadaraj Pai testifies on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Ron Sachs/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS)

Ron Sachs | Zuma Press

Ron Sachs | Zuma Press

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Varadaraj Pai testifies on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Ron Sachs/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS)

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On Dec. 14, the Federal Communications Commission and Chairman Ajit Pai will vote to end the Obama-era internet protections known as net neutrality. These protections are central to an open and free Internet, and the Daily 49er Editorial Board is calling on the student body to respond.

At the end of the day, losing these regulations will be bad for students across the country. With tuition and rent at historic highs, every last dollar matters. And you can believe these media companies will suck every last cent out of consumers.

For many of us on the editorial board, the wide world of the internet has been a formative force growing up. Whether you remember goofy videos from ebaumsworld, making friends in online communities or learning about things your parents probably didn’t want to teach you, nearly everyone at this university can point to the web as a huge part of growing up. But if Pai and his counterparts at the FCC have their way, the free and open promise the internet was built upon will be in serious jeopardy.

At Cal State Long Beach, we have dozens of platforms that allow us to not only access content for our professional and academic purposes, but more importantly, to create content that will only matter if everyone is given the chance to see it.

Comcast promised for years in a statement on its website the company “doesn’t prioritize Internet traffic or create paid fast lanes.” The day Pai and the FCC announced the body would vote to repeat net neutrality, the internet provider removed the statement from the site. In the days after, representatives from the company hinted that paid prioritization may be coming in the near future.

For those who have been watching this debate unfold, these empty promises sound painfully familiar. In the early days of the world wide web, providers like Southwestern Bell (now AT&T) asked the government for billions of dollars. These companies claimed that without the investment, it would be impossible to create the necessary infrastructure consumers were asking for. And we paid up — to the tune of over $400 billion, according to researcher Bruce Kushnick.

But decades later, these companies still haven’t held up their end of the bargain. Instead of upgrading all of the old copper wiring connections to fiber optic cabling, providers pocketed the money, using an outdated technology, which some of you may remember as DSL. That horrible dial tone heard every time someone in the house picked up the phone while your brother or sister was on the computer? You can blame that on these ISPs.

With the news cycle becoming more and more negative, it can be easy for students to feel apathetic. Our voices have never been more important, and the Internet we all grew up with needs our help.

While an FCC spokesperson has said the commission will not be reading any new comments, it doesn’t mean we should stay silent. Sending your representative an email may feel worthless, but adding to the 22 million voices of dissent can only help.

For the more radical among us, Dec. 7 will see protests outside Verizon stores across the country. Both the Torrance and Lakewood Verizon locations are slated for the event. The editorial board encourages everyone willing and able to make sure these companies hear our complaints. Signs and demonstrations put pressure to respond and force them to go on the record with plans for the future.

The internet helped raise a generation, provided a safe home for the disenfranchised and has given a voice to the voiceless. It’s our turn to give something back.

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