If you pay any attention to the news or spend time on social media outlets, you have most likely heard the words net neutrality being tossed around. Many of us have no idea what this term means. There is also a lot controversy surrounding these two words. It is one of the biggest policy debates surrounding the Internet. So what exactly does it mean?
One website states, “In short, ‘net neutrality’ refers to the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally, without discrimination. Net neutrality says that Internet service providers should transmit data without giving preference to certain companies or types of data.” Sounds simple enough right? So what’s the problem? People who oppose net neutrality say that they government should not regulate how Internet providers run their business.
When you open your Internet browser you are taken to your home page. For many people this is your chosen search engine. So, for example, you start from your home page and all you have to do is type in a website address or a search for something in the search bar. When you do, your search engine will bring you all the results on that topic. Your Internet service provider can’t decide which results to give you.
What is Net Neutrality?
The phrase “net neutrality” basically means that all websites on the internet are treated the same by your internet service provider. They can’t discriminate against sites based on popularity, type, or any other factor. Meaning if you have Company X as a provider, they are not allowed to block any sites from you or allowed to slow down services to certain sites. All websites get the same treatment across the board, regardless of their content or popularity.
So, What Does All That Mean?
To simplify, if Internet service providers can change the way their service is provided to different sites this could mean your monthly billing would be set up similarly to a cable TV package. Certain packages could charge more for certain sites based on popularity (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube). Another possibility is packages could be set up based on type of website.
This means that if an average Internet user wanted to access all the websites one typically visits, you would have to pay for each package option in order to do so.
So, What Is The Argument?
Basically what it comes down to is whether or not the government regulation is necessary to preserve the Internet or if that regulation will be harmful for future innovation.
What are your thoughts? Have you done some research on net neutrality? Take some time to read up on it and form your own thoughts and opinions. Be sure that you are using reputable sources in your research!