In a world where it’s a cultural norm to find the quick answer to a question by a web search, to stream music when a new song comes out and to pass the time by scrolling through social media, most people probably don’t even give a thought to how much freedom the internet offers.
Free access to the web and a free market for upcoming websites is just a part of our lives in the digital age of the United States, but this perk that is easily taken for granted could be deflated with the removal of net neutrality rules.
Net Neutrality was implemented in the United States during the Obama Era in 2015. The policy prohibits internet service providers from treating specific websites or content differently from others. This ensures internet users do not receive additional charges or limitations on web services, such as streaming speed.
Recent claims by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai indicate that he wants to move forward with repealing net neutrality rules, which could be decided at the FCC meeting as early as Dec. 14.
What would this mean if the change goes into place?
ISPs such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast would be given the power to set the playing field for online services, either benefitting their own content or the highest bidding companies.
This could influence the streaming speed of services such as Netflix or Hulu, but the true losers in this fight would be new, upcoming websites.
Net neutrality prevents ISPs from charging websites for prioritization, such as faster user access. Smaller websites may not be able to afford prioritization if ISPs implement these costs, making it nearly impossible for the sites to be noticed or grow.
The net neutrality issue cannot be undermined, and the best thing to do is not sit idly until a decision is made. Contacting elected officials is a first step to prevent a change that could damage internet freedom.