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By Danielle Gordon
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – Net neutrality, as Camden County College Communications Program Coordinator Drew Jacobs describes it, means internet service providers may not create different tiers of service for different people. It is the idea that all types of digital traffic should be treated equally, meaning ISPs may not manipulate internet speeds or block internet content, including wesites, apps, videos or any other form of internet data.

In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3 to 2 to reverse the Obama-era net neutrality regulation under influences made by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Donald Trump appointee.

Twenty-two states, including New Jersey, responded to the decision to roll back the regulation by suing the FCC in an attempt to get the commission to reverse its decision. Many other net neutrality supporters, including consumer advocacy groups and technological industries, are also fighting against the FCC through movements and petitions in Washington, D.C.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law on March 5 to ensure Washington will preserve an open internet once the law goes into effect on June 6.

“We’ve seen the power of an open internet,” Inslee said when he signed the law. “It allows a student in Washington to connect with researchers all around the world or a small business to compete in the global marketplace. It’s allowed a free flow of information and ideas in one of the greatest demonstrations of free speech in our history.”

One of the biggest concerns consumers have, as Inslee highlighted, is that internet access is already difficult for many to receive. The already prominent digital divide leaves many students throughout the country at a disadvantage when it comes to gaining online access, especially when students are now living in a technologically advanced world that requires almost all work to be done on a digital platform.

Given that Camden County College campuses offer students access to free Wi-Fi and computer labs, what the FCC’s repeal will mean for students if the college requires employees and students to use faster internet services is uncertain.

Camden County College communications major Brooke Destra said she’s greatly concerned for all students attending colleges and universities nationwide, as the potential need to cut funding or increase tuition to get a better internet network seems plausible.

“I’m definitely opposed to cutting budgets. The cut programs are usually the arts, the theater programs, they’re the first things to go,” Destra stated. “And that is frustrating to me because even though I am a communications major, growing up, theater was my life. Just knowing that could be something that could go is frustrating to me. That’s how we express ourselves and our creativity.”

Camden County College officials have not commented on the possible need for funding for faster internet service.

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