On June 11th 2018, the Federal Communication’s Commission officially repealed the legal protections of equal accessibility to all content on the internet. The vote occurred on December 14, 2017, and the decision has since been widely condemned by consumers, technology companies, and many politicians in the United States.
But what is net neutrality, and who does it benefit by being repealed?
Net neutrality is the concept that all consumers will be granted equal access to any web content by their service provider, regardless of the original source. Essentially, net neutrality regulations were intended to keep the internet a level playing field for all providers, where internet service providers could not slow down or speed up certain content in order to make their own content more usable for consumers. In repealing net neutrality, internet service providers benefit as they can now control the content their consumers see. They can block and slow down content from other providers and prioritize their own. Furthermore, the removal of these regulations also allows the internet service providers to change how they charge their customers for the use of services that are not their own, granting them even more control over the traffic of different sites.
Changes in how we experience the internet will not occur immediately, but gradually the internet will begin to look different. Smaller service providers will likely fade as larger service providers with more money are able to control the internet traffic towards their sites. As service providers gain more control with the repeal of these regulations, they will also be allowed to collect more customer data in order to advertise more directly to each consumer. No matter how long the changes take to materialize, it is certain that the future of the internet will likely be unrecognizable in comparison to the internet as we currently know it.