Net neutrality is a principle that keeps the Internet open to everyone who accesses it. Everything you want to search for – news, music, videos, games and even edgy memes –can be found on the Internet thanks to the net neutrality principle and of course, the users.
In the past, Internet users and NGOs fought ACTA, NSA and other agencies and agreements that would impair the World Wide Web that we all know and love. Sadly, we might face the same battle again.
Nowadays, you can watch music videos then switch to streamers who play violent video games or vloggers who have different political views. Everything is possible on the Internet thanks to the net neutrality principle.
It means that your Internet provider doesn’t monitor or limit your Internet access just because you may be looking for something weird, inappropriate or politically incorrect. The Internet should represent freedom to access almost any type of information using any format with the same speed.
What Happens When Net Neutrality Is Impaired?
An Internet provider can dictate how much you pay if you visit certain sites. For example, if you are streaming or watching streamers, your provider can charge you extra. This is because of the data package that goes between you and the streaming site.
The Internet provider must offer the same connection speed when you access any site. That’s the job of an ISP – to provide a smooth experience on the Internet.
If an Internet service provider thinks that Youtube is better than Netflix, for whatever reason, he will provide a better connection towards Youtube and sabotage the connection towards Netflix. This is what will happen if net neutrality is impaired.
And here is the funny part: besides being taxed extra for accessing your favorite site, you may also pay another fee. Here is why: because of the data going between you and Netflix, for example, your ISP can charge Netflix extra. Because of that, Netflix may raise its subscription fee, and you will now have to pay more money to have access to Netflix.
Is There any Protection against Something Like This?
The Federal Communications Commission or the FCC upholds the net neutrality principle. In 2011, the FCC created the Open Internet Rules. These rules prevent the ISPs from blocking any lawful websites and from creating slow lanes (connections) because these are seen as discriminatory methods.
Another thing that the Federal Communications Commission supports is the guaranteed transparency. That means that the Internet service provider has to present its network management practices, performances and commercial terms of its services.
In 2014, in a court defeat in the case of Verizon versus FCC, the transparency rule was the only rule left intact. The rules to block certain sites and create slow lanes were struck down. This means that Verizon can charge sites like Facebook, Google, Netflix extra, and this also applies to the users that connect to them.
pic credit bluefletch
The World without Net Neutrality
If this happens, you can expect a lot of violations from your Internet service provider. Expect slow traffic, stopping voice-over-IP services, redirecting search traffic, throttling streaming traffic and much more.
As a simple Internet user, you can expect a normal speed connection for a site favored by your ISP and a slower connection for other sites that haven’t paid the ISP. This will mean that surfing the Internet will become a time-consuming and excruciating experience.
When this happens, people will abandon their favorite site, if it happens to be one that hasn’t paid the ISP, for one with a normal connection speed. Small sites will lose a lot of revenue and might be forced to shut down. Small businesses will collapse as well if net neutrality is eliminated.
In the last years, Verizon and AT&T made a series of data programs. These would make the people use specific sites at a discount rate or pay the full price for other sites.
The Present Threat
The FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, wants to change the net neutrality rules. The new changes would involve more freedom for the Internet service providers. FCC would do this by getting the Congress to pass a weak legislation that has a small net neutrality protection. In other words, the old net neutrality rules will be easy to break.
You can say that Pai is working from within the agency to make net neutrality weaker. It is important to make every Internet user understand what is happening here. The Internet as we know it might change in something that can be controlled.
If this happens, the Internet service providers would be able to remove your favorite sites, Youtube channels, streaming channels and even your website from the World Wide Web.
We will see if some of the new FCC rules will be accepted in the US. If this happens, expect the same in Asia and Europe.