by Garit Boshcka
Most everyone critical of capitalism is aware that the ruling class will never permanently assure rights if they stand to benefit from their repeal. This has been recently shown by the new budget, vying to dismantle PBS, under-staffing agencies which the public relies on, inflating the imperialist military industrial complex, banning people from entering the country solely based on their religion, invading homes through ICE, dissecting public education, and vying to cut the lifelines of over 24 million Americans by repealing the Affordable Care Act. The fascist tendencies of the Trump regime are increasingly apparent; nothing is off limits to their chaotic scheme, including all free-flowing information of the world wide web.
Net neutrality gained major popular support in 2010 as people opposed to corporate control of censorship and bandwidth was not in their best interest. The bill gained notoriety, with some traction it passed and established limits to internet service providers (ISPs), meaning they could not limit bandwidth to particular addresses or block them outright for business gain. It generally states web access is a universal human right. Without net neutrality, ISPs’ monopolies of the private sector would be free to completely control America’s access to the internet.
If net neutrality is repealed, it means every single domain, and subsequent access to the domain, could be blocked or throttled according to an uncapped fee from the ISP. While the cost of individual’s internet service could go up significantly, the bill affects every sector of the economy in that the cost of every internet domain would include a fee according to its “fast lane” for access, and for site bandwidth capacity itself.
It amounts to a monopoly tax on everything from the grocer, to the manufacturers of farm equipment who need a responsive connection for ordering, to every debit card reader which may then need to include a “fast lane” connection fee with every transaction. Startup businesses, and even non-profit organizations could be adversely affected as they are suddenly faced with vast domain or ISP connection fees. All of this amounts to hurting the workers through what is essentially “trickle-up-economics.”
The additional ability to censor on a whim through this strategic bandwidth fast-laning means that every ISP could refuse service to a massive number of common-cause, scientific, political, and social groups. Rival businesses could be denied access from across providers; imagine being blocked from your work email because you are restricted to AT&T. Freedom of speech hardly applies when the outlet essentially belongs to a single private sector monopoly.
Who could support such a rollback? Obviously the ISP corporations that would directly profit are supporting this. Giving ISPs direct control over all P2P net traffic would mean an end to torrenting. Some people are willing to blockade the primary artery of free-flowing information for the sake of “protecting intellectual property.” Above the absurdity of non-digital intellectual property being bought and sold; the idea of empowering corporations to freely replicable, digital, intellectual property, allowing it to be concentrated in the hands of a few select publishers for exclusive profit off of artists is especially ridiculous.
Of course, protecting this “intellectual property” would do nothing to stop the underground flow of terrorist manuscripts, illegal pornography, extremely violent media, hate group forums, volatile black markets, or dangerous conspiracy theory nonsense spread by alt-right/fascists to instigate random acts of violence. The proponents for the reversal of net neutrality would much rather protect iTunes from losing a potential customer than prevent a family from going homeless due to general price hikes on everyday products.
It could be said that much of this would be non-issue if not for Trump’s FCC chairman appointee, Ajit Pai. But at the core of the struggle against these economically parasitic elements is bourgeois democracy, where rights are revoked on a monetary whim; if you do not rise up and take action in such a system, they will gradually strip you of everything. It is not an option to sit idle, unless to concede to the ruling class in absolving themselves from having to recognize yet another human right.