It’s been well over a year since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revoked net neutrality. A lot has happened since, and the debate over whether net neutrality is good or bad is ongoing.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality (also known as the Open Internet) is the principle that all internet connections should be treated equally. If there’s no net neutrality, internet service providers (ISPs) can discriminate against sites or services and regulate what users can and can’t see.
The FCC first started talking about rolling back net neutrality rules in 2017. By no longer classifying ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, they could charge more for specific content, slow down their competitors’ services, or block internet access altogether.
By the end of 2017, the FCC had revoked net neutrality and allowed ISPs to sell their users’ data without their permission. In 2019, the House of Representatives attempted to reinstate net neutrality, but that effort is still underway.
Is net neutrality good or bad?
It significantly affects both internet users and ISPs in very different ways, so there are a lot of arguments for and against net neutrality. From the consumers’ point of view, net neutrality is a guarantee that all connections are treated equally and ISPs won’t censor the internet. To ISPs, however, net neutrality means that the government will heavily control how they do their business.
Pros and cons of net neutrality
Equal playing field. Net neutrality means that no one receives special treatment because they have more money. Without it, ISPs can slow down the websites or services of small businesses that can’t afford to pay for faster connections. The same goes for small creators, whose main source of income is their YouTube channel. None of them would be able to compete with large corporations.
Freedom of expression. ISPs can’t block content or slow down webpages just because they don’t like it. With no net neutrality, nothing is stopping them from censoring online content.
No exclusion. Net neutrality guarantees that everything on the internet is available to everyone. If accessing high-quality content online becomes a luxury only wealthy people can enjoy, this will increase social exclusion.
No additional costs for content. Without net neutrality, ISPs can charge companies more to improve their services, like faster video streaming, online gaming, etc. If this happens, these companies will just transfer their new financial burden on to the users.
No one is paying for the data. With net neutrality, users only pay for the service, not the data they consume. Video streaming services were responsible for 57% of the bandwidth
used worldwide in 2018. Customers who use less bandwidth may not want to pay for the infrastructure needed to support high-bandwidth activities.
Illicit content is widely available. Offensive, dangerous, and illegal content is accessible to everyone and difficult to remove. Removing net neutrality makes it easier for ISPs to filter dangerous content, although this is a small step from censorship.
No new infrastructure. If ISPs can’t charge more for their services, they can’t invest in their infrastructure. With net neutrality, large amounts of data are consumed without paying for it – this money could be used to expand the high-speed network to rural areas.
Tiresome regulations. Under net neutrality, the FCC must monitor the ISPs’ compliance with these rules. This includes reports two times a year, which can become costly for ISPs of any size.
Will net neutrality be restored?
Even though the Save the Internet Act was passed in the House, nothing is for sure. The bill still needs to succeed in the Senate, and despite the arguments for net neutrality, this is not currently likely.
The net neutrality debate will most likely continue for some time, as there is still no sign of compromise. But if you’re worried about your privacy online – secure your traffic. With NordVPN, you can hide your online activity from your ISP and enjoy unrestricted internet access without bandwidth throttling.
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