The Federal Communications Commission’s Republican chairman Ajit Pai led committee to repeal Net Neutrality in a 3-2 vote on Thursday, December 14, 2017.
Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet carriers should not be able to manage or hinder a user’s online experience. The guiding purpose of Net Neutrality is that Internet service providers should treat all data on the Internet the same, without discrimination based on content accessed or user.
Without Net Neutrality, Internet companies, like Verizon and Comcast, will be able to regulate which sites work the best, and charge users more in order to access information.
Prior to the set of rules surrounding Net Neutrality set by the Obama administration in 2015, the government had no control and placed no protections on Internet usage. Companies like Comcast and AT&T were found guilty of slowing down certain sites for users who visited them.
Not only will the repeal cause difficulties and put some citizens at a disadvantage when using the Internet, it will create further issues for students, especially with technology-based learning at MTHS.
Approximately five million households with student-aged children in America do not have access to high-speed Internet, which creates a serious hindrance in completing schoolwork. The difficulty students experience completing homework when they lack Internet access at home compared to those who have access is called the homework gap.
The lack of ability to study and complete assignments using different websites prevents many students from getting the work done in the same efficient manner as other students. Students without Internet access suffer, as the quality of their work may deteriorate due to their lack of access to the world’s largest and easiest to use database. Students who can pay for the best access will experience the most success.
Freshman Nico Sta. Ana said, “School would become a pay-to-win system because of the cost of where our information comes from.”
By providing iPads, the school is essentially aiding in closing the gap. However, that does not necessarily mean that each student has unlimited access to high-speed Internet in order to utilize the provided resource.
With the repeal of Net Neutrality, the homework gap will only widen due to more paywalls blocking resources.
Because the district relies heavily on technology-based learning, many students suffer due to the lack of resources they have when completing work at home.
Freshman Paul Graetzig said, “I had a friend that suffered from the disadvantages of what I now know is the homework gap in middle school. He walked to the library after school and relied on books to get information. He didn’t even have a library card, so he couldn’t get on the computer. Once in a while, I would go with him and let him use my card, but I know he found it extremely difficult at times to complete work.”
Using the Internet gives an obvious advantage to people who can afford and access it. The simplicity of Googling anything you may need to know immensely trumps spending hours searching through books for a single piece of information.
For the students who rely on the library’s computers as a resource, Net Neutrality will make accessing information even harder because public libraries are non-profit, and they will not be able to afford the fees to access reliable and speedy sites.
If students are expected to pay to access data, how should schools be more aware and respectful of different students’ disadvantages and situations?