Net Neutrality

To be (open and free), or not to be?

In the United States, the mission to achieve a free and open internet began roughly around 2007 – politically speaking. This was when President Barack Obama made a commitment to fight for a free and open internet, if elected. His white house website, available here, offers a brief timeline of how far that initiative has come since then. Most importantly, he said that the internet offered equality. And for that reason, it should not be limited and controlled by the likes of internet service providers (ISPs).

As a consumer, your perception of an idea can vary based on the type of exposure you have had on the matter. If you solely rely on your 7 o’clock news channel for updates and perspective on your community and the world around us, well then you may only ever get one side to every story. Now imagine how that concept translates into the world wide web. It has the word “wide” in it for a reason, because it should offer a wide variety of perspectives, opinions, and scope of information. That is the intention of net neutrality. Information should not be censored nor filtered, it is difficult enough that so many things get lost in translation as it is. My favorite “guide” to net neutrality is one by WIRED Radio. It walks readers through why net neutrality is such a sensitive topic and how things would change without it. The site also connects the motives of the pro versus the against side to create an improved understanding of how it has escalated over the last one to two decades.

Tying all of this back into one of the major pillars of journalism and mass media, and that is media literacy. How does it have to do with net neutrality and is it something to look out for?

Besides having everything to do with net neutrality, media literacy is how journalism can continue to educate and inspire the public. Without access to a free and open internet, no writer, reader, nor listener can have an honest view of the information being presented.

To go as far as saying net neutrality is global human right is nothing short of the truth. Just as the First Amendment protects free speech, it would be reasonable that it protects the right to hear and see the information that is out there. What good is free speech if it is censored and filtered before it gets into the public eye?

Media literacy is unavailable without net neutrality, and so is free speech. In 2023, we are fully immersed into the digital age. Our news, our information, is digital before it is even verbal in many cases. Net neutrality is the free speech of the digital era of society. There is an unquestionable responsibility to protect net neutrality and to protect our First Amendment right.

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