Net neutrality is a hot-button issue today. It seems that everyone has an opinion about how far and wide-reaching laws pertaining to it should go.

At the heart of the issue is consumer’s access to the internet, and the fairness that access entails. Consumers and their advocates desire an even-keel playing field when it comes to providers of internet access. They desire fairness and equal treatment when it comes to the speed of web traffic across the board.

NAMLE (The National Association for Media Literacy Education) says: “Access is how, when, where, and how often people have access to the tools, technology, and digital skills necessary to thrive.” Consumers and smaller tech companies desire to protect their interest in equal access from the broadband behemoths that would love to dictate access, speed and control of internet services.

Consumers want a free and open information highway, free of roadblocks and impediments that a company like Comcast would like to impose on them in efforts to bolster their coffers. Allowing large companies to do what they want could lead to higher prices for consumers, excessive throttling when visiting websites like streaming platforms, and hinder their internet experience if they’re “on the wrong plan”.

For smaller companies, it could mean unequal access in the form of pushing websites and content more favorable to the broadband provider and this could mean less traffic and eyes on the smaller tech organizations.

California, like in many other arenas, may lead the way forward in net neutrality across the country. According to AP – “(California’s law) banned internet providers like Comcast or AT&T from slowing down or blocking access to websites or charging internet companies like Netflix for a faster route to customers. The California law took a step farther in also banning some forms of “zero rating” — a term for when a cable or phone company exempts a service from data caps. This progressive legislation has implications that could ripple across the USA, and a federal judge in 2021 cleared the way for CA to begin enforcement of the new law.

Media literacy requires equal access to all information and ideas without interference or censorship. This allows the participation in society by everyone regardless of their background, socio-economic status, and other distinct variables. Some argue that the ability to convey and receive information in the information age is a global human right. Ensuring a more media-literate society means access needs to be ubiquitous and universal.

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