What Happens When the Net Isn’t Neutral?

 

                                                                                         A Portuguese ISP’s internet plans

 

In February 2015 the Federal Communications Commission ruled in favor of Net Neutrality, an act that prevents internet providers from favoring any data on the internet above others. It makes sure that an ISP can’t charge more for, slow down, or block content on the internet. They had to be neutral. It was an idea that had been around for years, but the first time it happened.

On December 14, 2017, the FCC voted to repeal this act.

If this decision is carried through, the internet and how we use it could drastically change.

For example, say you have a website for your small business. An internet service provider can say you get X speed of internet if you pay us Y amount of money, and if you the service to be better. Companies and people who can afford to pay for the best pricing will have fantastic internet speeds, but you don’t have that money. So, your content is streamed to your viewers at the worst speed they can give you because that’s all you can afford; and because people don’t like to wait for things to buffer, your viewer rates steadily start to decline.

Or maybe you’re a large company with a rival. You both provide the same service, say streaming TV shows and movies, but there’s one thing. The person providing your broadband doesn’t like you, or owns your rival company. Now your streaming speeds are incredibly slow, but your rival’s is fantastic.

Or say you get your internet from Verizon. They give Yahoo! the best internet speed because they own it. Google? The speed is so slow it barely functions.

It’s the same for the news site you visit because it leans to the other side of the political spectrum that the people who run the ISP.

By repealing Net Neutrality, the door is opened for incredible amounts of media manipulation. ISPs are free to speed up, slow down, or block any content they see fit. They are no longer required to be neutral.

The fight isn’t over though. The Washington state Attorney General has expressed that he will take legal action against the FCC and had been joined by a number of other states’ AGs as well. In addition to those attorney generals, Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Doyle has said he will introduce legislation to overturn the decision.

Net Neutrality protects an open and free internet and we should all be concerned about losing that right.