By Zoe Bernard
Wildfires in California have been destroying the states wildlife since August 4th. Heroic firefighters in the surrounding area depend on many tools, including some that involve the use of data or wifi, to identify where the fires are and how fast they are spreading across the state. The demand for a strong internet connection in these deadly situations is unimaginable.
On August 20, 2018, Santa Clara County firefighters were trying to put out some of the Mendocino, California fires when their data started going outstandingly slow. Usually their data from Verizon is fast enough to help them get through the fires, but that day their wifi was so slow that it wouldn't have been able to load a google file. Verizon has admitted to slowing down data in order to force people to buy a more expensive plan, but to do that to firefighters who are fighting the largest fire in the nation?
Congress assigned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the incident. Congress sent them a letter stating that during the Mendocino, California wildfires, Verizon throttled their data until the firefighters paid for a more expensive plan even though they had already paid for an unlimited plan. Since the incident, on August 23, 2018, Verizon decided that they will remove all data restrictions for first responders. That doesn't change the fact that Verizon made an already unyielding situation worse. But that leaves a question: if they can slow down data for firefighters, what makes you think they aren’t already doing it to you?