On Thursday, the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality rules put in place during Barack Obama’s presidency. This has caused a range of emotions for many people from anger to happiness to confusion.
So what is net neutrality? Net Neutrality is the principle that all internet services providers must treat data on the internet the same way. This means that providers cannot charge a person different based on the user, the website, platform, application, type of attachment, or method of communication. This means that a provider cannot intentionally manipulate a person’s internet speed or internet rate based on the websites that he is visiting. Without net neutrality, an internet provider even has the ability to block political websites from its users that the provider does not support.
So what does this mean for internet consumers?
According to the Wall Street Journal article “End of Net Neutrality: What It Means for Consumers” written by Douglas MacMillan, consumers won’t notice immediate changes to their internet bill, but eventually we will see costs go up. MacMillan writes that internet providers could eventually charge websites such as Netflix for streaming television free of interruption. These new charges may eventually be seen in the increase of a Netflix subscription cost. MacMillan also states that without net neutrality, there could be less competition between internet service providers, fewer companies may be able to offer services, which would allow companies that do offer services to raise their prices.
So what can we do to prevent our internet speeds from being slowed or the websites we look at from being censored?
MacMillan suggests reading all of the fine print in a user agreement when you sign up for internet services. Fortunately, the FCC has required providers to disclose if they plan to block or slow down internet speed for any services.
So what are the benefits of net neutrality?
According to the New York Times article, “What’s Next After the Repeal of Net Neutrality” by Cecilia Kang, programs may be offered to consumers allowing for free streaming of certain apps like YouTube and Netflix. Companies may allow their customers to stream these apps without using any of their data.
Some internet providers such as Comcast and AT&T have claimed that they will not block sites even with the new changes. These companies have also stated that they will not charge customers for faster download speeds on certain websites.