Of the users, by the users, for the users

What are my friends up to on Facebook? Are there any updates on Tumblr? I wonder if Markiplier uploaded another video on YouTube yet? Since the late 1990s when technology became more widely available, people find themselves glued to their electronic devices as soon as they find a WiFi signal. It is thanks to Net Neutrality that this sort of freedom in regards to online activity is possible.

Net Neutrality is the reason behind the free and open Internet available today. It is the principle that all data on the Internet should be treated equally and not be discriminated against because of the person using the site or the site itself. In our technologically advanced society, this right holds perhaps as much importance as the First Amendment did two and a quarter centuries ago.

This liberty, like many others before it, was recently challenged.

Last May, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Tom Wheeler released a proposal that would have given companies such as Comcast or Verizon control to dictate how the Internet is to be run. Theoretically, this control would have resulted in blocked websites based on who provided the Internet service, having to pay for access or because of content. Because of this, massive public outrage and protest bombarded both the FCC and the United States Congress and, as of Feb 26, the proposal was swapped for another that strengthened Internet protection, rather than weakening it and was approved three to two.

Internet users aware of this problem breathed a sigh of relief that swept the nation, including myself. Despite a general distrust of technology and an annoyance of our culture’s dependence on it, the Internet is one of my many vices. After a long day at school, the World Wide Web provides a much appreciated opportunity to wind down from the stress of everyday life. The new Avengers trailer is out? Time to fangirl over how awesome Ultron looks. The Walking Dead is streaming on Hulu? Time to cry because your favorite character probably just died. Neill Blomkamp is directing Alien 5? Time to feverishly stalk his Instagram for more Xenomorph concept art.

The Internet is a wonderful place for these ideas to congregate, a hub of information and entertainment: limitless and ever-growing, much like the vacuum of space. This vacuum leads to a combination of freedom and festivity that makes for an addictive and dangerous combination. Perhaps that is why the URL was almost SOL.

J.K. Rowling once said, “The Internet has been a boon and a curse for teenagers,” and as much as I adore the Internet and all of the potential that is has to offer, even I have to agree with this statement. The Internet is a messed up and dangerous place. Children are exploited every day online, chat rooms open up doors for sexual predators, mature content filters can easily be hacked or simply turned off and a majority of sex crimes against minors are instigated through online social media profiles.

Taking these facts into consideration, it is easy to see why the FCC would want more security for the Internet. The Internet is a technological privilege and, like most privileges, it is taken for granted. There’s no way to control who goes online without taking the rights of others offline.