The Battle Over Net Neutrality Reaches Olivet’s Campus

Net Neutrality has been a hot topic this week as the date of the vote for its appeal is quickly approaching. In 2015, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that the internet falls under the protection of Net Neutrality as a public utility and was supported in 2016 by a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals. The ruling states that internet service providers (ISP) are not allowed to charge more or less for specific internet usage. On November 21st, FCC chairman Ajit Pai revealed his plan to repeal Net Neutrality.

“Phone and T.V companies like Verizon and AT&T will have the right to tell you what to search and what plan works best for you. You won’t have freedom to watch or search anything without permission, so it’s not exactly freedom,” Freshman Andrew Rankin said.

“As far as the university is concerned,” said Noel Slaby, Director of User Support Services in Olivet’s IT Department, “we don’t necessarily have concerns on either side. We basically take whatever internet is available, and we try to deliver it the best way we can to the students. The university currently has two internet providers, so if one changes its policies following changes to Net Neutrality, an easy switch can be made.

She also stated that “the university doesn’t have a position with Net Neutrality,” but she believes if Net Neutrality does get repealed, “companies will be able to control social issues…We already have existing regulations that cover existing freedoms of speech. The other side is how are we going to make money doing this? Because if we don’t make money, we are not going to provide it.”

Net Neutrality brings a host of new problems. Companies would be losing money because businesses rely on open internet to advertise and expand their businesses. But without Net Neutrality, ISPs would likely take any open opportunity to profit monetarily from the repeal.

“If we lost net neutrality,” Rankin added, “I think that the entire internet might end up being kind of restricted and not in a way that is best usable. For me, personally, I want to go into web design and create my own website. Net Neutrality would get between that, and I would have to compete with all the ISPs who want to host my website if it becomes big.”

Junior Cassie Thomas said, “As long as we are aware of what is going on with Net Neutrality and keep each other posted, we can learn more about it and try to help. I didn’t know anything about it, and I did some research. I don’t agree with the new rules because we should have freedom to explore the internet.”

“The concept of having net neutrality is important,” said sophomore Nicholas Limentato. “In 1934, Title II was created to regulate the telephone service because of the monopoly at the time. This was the basis for Net Neutrality policies implemented in 2015 under the Obama administration. Up until that point, the Net Neutrality regulations never existed. If repealed, They would not be banning Netflix and whatever else they have in those bundles for data and etc. We would still have access to those websites.”

The FCC will be voting on Net Neutrality regulations on December 14th, 2017.

If you have questions or want to get involved, talk to your fellow students and professors. Research Net Neutrality, and decide for yourself. For more information about how Net Neutrality would affect Olivet, reach out to Olivet’s IT Department. And if you feel passionately about the topic, there are avenues set up by savetheinternet.com and battleforthenet.com for you to contact your local representative of congress.

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