Hilltop on Hill2010

Twenty-one Journalism and Corporate Communications & Public Affairs students in Meadows School of the Arts are studying in Washington, D.C., this October for the Hilltop on the Hill 2010 program. The program is endowed by the Bauer Foundation for CCPA students wanting to study political communication on location in D.C. and at the political party conventions, the Presidential Inauguration and the G8 Economic Summit. The students spend five days in the nation’s capital, where they visit media and governmental sites and are briefed by policy analysts, political communicators and journalists.

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Internet regulations: How far is too far?

An update from Jessica, a CCPA major:

Hilltop%3ARita%3AJessica.jpg If you’ve ever skyped before, then you know how frustrating it is when your face freezes in the middle of your conversation because of your choppy Internet connection. What if you found out that your connection was bad because your sister was illegally downloading the third season of “Gossip Girl” or your neighbor was researching how to make a homemade bomb? Would you allow your Internet provider to control what pages its customers viewed if you knew that you could prevent future skype conversations from being cut short?

Believe it or not, a term has been coined to describe this very argument: net neutrality.

(In photo: Jessica with Rita Kirk, professor of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs.)

Spending my fall break in Washington, D.C., has made me realize that net neutrality is the “it” topic here on the Hill. Advocates of net neutrality propose that a new law would give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more power to regulate Internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, so that they cannot manage the Internet use of their customers.

Since a new law would take way too long to create and pass, advocates suggest that the current Telecommunications Act of 1996 redefine “broadband.” By doing this, the FCC would have more control over its use. Opponents of net neutrality advocate that a new law be passed that they think would protect their customers. Proponents, however, of net neutrality consider their “protection” to really just be unlawful discrimination and control.

Listening to professionals from companies and groups such as Google and Free Press discuss the issue of net neutrality makes it hard for one to ignore the angst in the air. If someone would have mentioned net neutrality, I would have been perplexed, to say the least. It only took me one day of being in D.C., however, for me to realize that this not a trivial matter. Laws are passed all the time without the public knowing anything about the issue.

If I have learned anything from being in D.C., it is the importance of staying updated on current issues and possible legislation, not only because it may affect my life, but also because we as Americans are blessed that we have the ability to fight for what we want and to make a difference.

Because I know many people know nothing about net neutrality, I am doing my part by spreading the word and informing people on the issue. Defended by the First Amendment, we as Americans have the power to change and to create new laws, and this is something that is often overlooked.

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