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Net neutrality pros and cons: What you need to know

In 2017 United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officially revoked net neutrality. A lot has happened since then, but the debate over whether net neutrality regulations are good or bad and whether they will ever be restored is still ongoing.

Net neutrality pros and cons: What you need to know

Is net neutrality good or bad? Pros and cons

Net neutrality affects both internet users and internet service providers (ISPs) in very different ways, so there are a lot of arguments for and against it. From a consumer’s point of view, net neutrality laws are a guarantee of a more open internet, in which all connections are treated equally and ISPs can’t censor users.

To ISPs, it means that the government will heavily control how they do their business, possibly preventing them from getting extra income to improve infrastructure. So are net neutrality regulations good or bad? Let’s look at the pros and cons.


  • pros
    Level playing field: Net neutrality rules mean that no one with more money receives special treatment. Without net neutrality rules, broadband providers in the United States can slow down the websites or services of small businesses that can’t afford to pay for the so-called fast lanes. 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.
  • pros
    Freedom of expression and free speech: the internet is a vital information source and ISPs shouldn’t be able to block content or slow down webpages just because they don’t like them. With no net neutrality legislation, nothing stops them from censoring online content. This, however, doesn’t include illegal content. With or without net neutrality regulations, the censoring of such content falls on the shoulders of law enforcement agencies.
  • pros
    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 and decrease equal access.
  • pros
    No additional costs for content: Without net neutrality rules, broadband providers can charge companies for improving services like faster video streaming, online gaming, etc. If this happens, these companies will transfer their new financial burden on to the users.


  • cons
    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.
  • cons
    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 one away from censorship.
  • cons
    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 being paid for – this money could be used to expand the high-speed network to rural areas.
  • cons
    Tiresome government regulation: Under net neutrality laws, the Federal Communications Commission must monitor the ISPs’ compliance with these rules. This includes submitting reports twice a year, which can become costly for ISPs of any size.
  • cons
    The internet can innovate without it: Many innovations took place in the absence of net neutrality regulations. Some net neutrality opponents also argue that there was a significant growth of the internet and relatively little wrongdoings without net neutrality.

The effects of net neutrality

Net neutrality protects consumer interests and helps to create a fairer, more open internet in several ways. For one, it prevents ISPs from intentionally reducing the speed of internet services or charging consumers money for access to specific areas of the internet.

Net neutrality is the idea that all internet users can expect a basic standard of speed and accessibility. This meant that ISPs operating under the net neutrality principle are not allowed to censor content based on their own preferences (they could, of course, censor content for legal reasons). Likewise, ISPs abiding by the principle of net neutrality commit to not artificially slowing down internet services in an attempt to target competitors.

For example, if you use a streaming service owned by a rival of your ISP’s parent company, your ISP might be incentivized to slow down your connection to that service, discouraging you from using it. This is the sort of tactic that net neutrality legislation typically combats.

Without net neutrality rules, ISPs can prioritize specific types of traffic over others, potentially targeting competitors and creating a worse experience for the consumer. They could even make users and companies pay for a fast lane, providing better speeds to those who can afford them.

Net neutrality is gone. Can a VPN help?

Yes, a VPN can help you avoid some of the negative impacts of net neutrality being rolled back.

ISPs are more likely to throttle your connection if they can see what you do online: for example, if you use a service owned by one of their competitors. To avoid activity-based bandwidth throttling and improve your privacy, use a VPN.

A VPN service routes your internet traffic through a VPN server, encrypting it and hiding it from ISPs and hackers. Remember, however, that a VPN doesn’t make you completely invisible to your ISP. They still know that you’re connected to a VPN, but your traffic will be shielded from them. Enjoy privacy and security with NordVPN.

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