In short, yes. Some of you may not know or care about net neutrality, but it’s one of the reasons why the Internet that we know and love right now exists. Without it, large Internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon will have free reign on how people use the Internet by controlling which websites have slow or fast loading speeds. They can even block other websites (especially competitors) and content from loading.
What is net neutrality?
Plain and simple, net neutrality is about treating all data on the Internet equally. This means that no one, not even the government or ISPs, can discriminate or impose additional charges no matter the user, content, or website.
It’s also important to the concept of the “open internet” – everyone is free to do as they please whether it’s for pleasure or for business, with the exception of criminal activities of course.
These two things have influenced the growth, innovation, and success of the Internet. The Internet could have been a different place altogether if “closed internet” prevailed in the past.
FCC’s Net Neutrality Proposal
For years, ISPs have continually challenged the FCC’s right to stop them from charging fees, which finally happened in February 2014 thanks to Verizon’s successful court case. This has urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to propose some changes to net neutrality. Currently, it is in the “comment processing” phase.
Of course, it was met with overwhelming opposition from various individuals and groups, which includes small enterprises to industry giants such as Google and Facebook. The FCC has adjusted the proposal since then, and according to them, either of the two things will happen:
- the proposal moves forward, which allows ISPs to create slow and fast lanes, and charge their customers accordingly
- reclassify broadband as a telecommunication service, which preserves net neutrality
How can the FCC’s ruling affect you?
The “slow/fast lane” will likely happen. ISP clients can make additional payments to give themselves preferential treatment in terms of faster data delivery. This puts anyone who doesn’t pay at a severe disadvantage, especially for media providers like Netflix. In fact, the fast lane may even become “necessary” just to stay competitive. Meanwhile, everyone else is left suffering in the slow lane, which means Internet access may be slow and unreliable at times, and access to other websites and competitors might even be disallowed.
What can you do?
All you can do right now is to write to the FCC about their proposals; hopefully, they will drop the proposal or draft a better one.