Students weigh in on net neutrality

Burger King released an advertisement on Jan. 24 explaining net neutrality.

The ad broke down net neutrality through a “social experiment” where customers had to pay extra to get a Whopper burger without delay. A ‘slow MBPS burger’ cost $4.99, while a ‘hyperfast MBPS burger’ cost a whopping $25.99.

“It’s a great way to explain to people who aren’t in the tech world,” said Miriam Ellis, a 29-year-old faculty member for Cosumnes River College’s diversity internship program. “It’s funny and sad at the same time.”

Brianna Solano, a 21-year-old student with an undeclared major, said that it was accurate, as well.

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Dec.14 to repeal net neutrality. This would mean that Internet service providers could block websites and apps, slow down a user’s access to data depending on the type of content, and create “lanes” that give users faster access to Internet depending on how much they pay.

“It’s really going to make it harder for people who don’t already have access to the Internet,” Ellis said.

Thien-Huong Ninh, a sociology professor at CRC, said that unequal access to information online could become an issue.

“The digital divide about equitable access to knowledge that the Internet provides could be a problem,” Ninh said.

Burger King’s ad went viral on YouTube, gaining millions of views since it was released.

While the Internet is used for many different things, a lot of students rely on the Internet both on and off-campus for educational reasons.

“If I’m doing research for my studies, I shouldn’t be paying more,” said 42-year-old English major Margo Riggs.

The college campus has a responsibility to “provide and maximize accessibility,” said Computer Information Science professor Wendell Fishman. While students have the option to come on campus for Internet if necessary, he said that it somewhat defeats its purpose of convenience if they have to travel to use it.

However, distance education coordinator Gregory Beyrer said that we shouldn’t be concerned about net neutrality affecting the campus.

“There’s no reason for service providers to target educational material,” Beyrer said.

Verizon Communications Inc. announced on Nov. 29 in a news release that Sacramento would be the first city in the country to receive commercial 5G high-speed wireless service.

“I think it’s great that Sacramento is being the catalyst for that,” Riggs said.

After acquiring Yahoo Inc. back in June 13, 2017, Verizon has recently received a lot of backlash after there were reports that claimed they were removing content related to net neutrality on Tumblr, the microblogging site they acquired from Yahoo.

The issue with Internet providers ‘picking and choosing’ content to show their users has been a major concern following the repeal, and has sparked a lot of conversation about the restriction of information.

“We could see more censorship,” said Fishman. “Internet providers could potentially pick and choose what information to make available.”

Solano also said this concern illustrated how influential corporations could be.

“This is a reminder of how much power corporations can have,” Solano said.

Ninh said she wondered if the effects of net neutrality would affect minorities.

“Will there be an inherent bias of marginalized groups?” Ninh asked.

Ultimately, Beyrer said that everyone has a responsibility to seek out information from different angles.

“Our duty is to be aware of which interests are being served by the media,” Beyrer said. “Our country is best served when its citizens are able to access perspectives from all sides.”

While net neutrality has been repealed, there is no known date as to when it will officially end yet.