Mourning the death of the internet as we know it, as it should be in a democracy

The internet has been an important part of our modern civilization. It has exponentially changed our world by leaps and bounds because it made access to information and communication so easy and quick. It has also provided us with bridges to connect with our family wherever in the world they may be and has helped connect us with networks important to our businesses, professions, and advocacies. The internet has also given all of its users the platform to promote our talents, sell our merchandise, and share our opinions and perspectives with the global community.

However, the internet as we know it is now dead, thanks to the unrelenting efforts of the Trump administration to undo almost all the legacies of the Obama era, especially regulations that are meant to protect the ordinary consumers from corporate greed and private interests of well-connected people who will do anything and everything for money, power, and control.

Last Thursday, December 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to dismantle rules that regulate the businesses that connect consumers to the internet, and as the New York Times reported, this move will grant broadband companies the power to potentially reshape Americans’ online experiences.

In 2015, the FCC implemented these regulations to have stronger oversight over broadband providers as Americans have migrated to the internet for most communications. We heard about  “net neutrality regulations” that prohibited broadband providers (like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc) from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content.

These Obama-era rules mandate that the federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like a phone service. The goal of this regulation is to democratize the use of the internet — to level the playing field for all Americans to have access to information, which empowers people and helps them make intelligent decisions.

This move of the FCC is in congruence with the view of the Trump administration and the new FCC chairman that unregulated business will eventually yield innovation and help the economy. However, information is not an ordinary commodity. Access to information is vital in a democracy.

Would you allow these broadband companies to control which information we will have access to, which data will be promoted and which ones will be blocked? Would you trust these internet corporations to not yield to powerful, well-connected and well-funded forces which may ask or even demand that their political and economic positions be favored and prioritized in shaping the public’s mind and decision-making process?

As the NYT reported, critics of the changes say that consumers will have more difficulty accessing content online and that start-ups will have to pay to reach consumers.

Are you okay with this? Are you yielding your right to be informed without the hidden agenda of people in power? Are you abdicating YOUR own power in this democracy?

If NOT, then let the whole world know. Protest against this Trump administration decision that kills net neutrality.

* * *

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to,

Email Email  |  Print Print

Leave a Reply