Written by Sydney Stewart
The repeal of net neutrality this past December signaled to many the end of the internet as we know it. Critics have declared it a strike against free speech and a point given to private industries looking to gain a profit from the internet that was once free and equal for all to use. The repeal elicited protests and indignation; and yet, from all the voices calling against the repeal, one group has remained shockingly silent—at least according to Publishers Weekly. The magazine recently wrote an editorial calling on the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to issue a statement disapproving of the action to repeal net neutrality, because it puts their industry, and the internet as we know it, at risk.
Publishers Weekly wrote that if the AAP takes a firm stance against the repeal, “America’s book publishers can make a critical difference.” As a major association that supports one of the most widely used modes of free speech (books), their statement against the repeal could be a major factor that eventually revokes this rollback. While the Association of American Publishers is a group with limited resources and must carefully select which causes they commit themselves to, the repeal of net neutrality is the one that perhaps poses the biggest threat against their industry and essentially against everyone in America. This topic has now become all the more salient due to the fact that massive measures by many groups across America are fighting this repeal. Over twenty states are taking their dissent to the courts; fifty senators are currently supporting a bill that would effectively block the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision; and thousands of individuals are speaking out and protesting. With the power of the Association of American Publishers adding to those numbers, perhaps a real and tangible change could be initiated.
Through free internet space, voices can be heard that otherwise could be silenced or blocked by major corporations charging internet users for accessing certain websites. Today, many authors depend on the internet to voice their opinions and house their work. This problem extends beyond the Association of American Publishers, though; it affects every user of the free internet. It has the capacity to erase the internet as we know it, limiting what messages and voices can be heard. The repeal of net neutrality puts a price tag on the freedom of speech, because it allows broadband companies to charge users for certain websites or limit their access if they refuse to pay.
The internet has forever been a breeding ground for opinions and artistic creations alike. Anyone with the basic resources to access the internet—whether it be through cell phones or computers—has been able to say what they wish, to properly use their freedom of speech. Not only must the Association of American Publishers step up and condemn this action and join the battle for free internet once more, but people everywhere must make their opinions known. From massive organizations to the individual, change can be brought on if all speak their minds and make themselves heard.