Three years into the Restoring Internet Freedom Act and a new president there’s a growing conversation about net neutrality possibly making a come back. It’s clear this hot button issue isn’t going away and it’s clearer now more than ever how essential our internet connections are thanks to the coronavirus. With round two on the horizon you might be asking yourself, what is net neutrality and how does it affect me? Let’s dive into what you need to know.
What Is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality is the core principle that internet providers must treat all internet traffic should be treated equally no matter where it is going. Under net neutrality, internet providers can’t block, unreasonably slow down, charge more money or otherwise interfere with your ability to reach any site, app or service that you choose just as long as what you’re visiting and doing online is legal.
Net neutrality is a free and equal access to the internet while preventing these three harmful practices:
- Blocking: Internet provider cannot block or prevent access to any lawful content online. As for illegal content, your internet provider can do as they wish before and after net neutrality.
- Paid speed prioritization: Internet providers cannot prioritize customers that pay extra for a “fast lane” and purposely keep those who do not in a “slow lane.”
- Speed throttling: Internet providers cannot limit your bandwidth, slow your connection or otherwise impede your connection based on what you do online.
What Net Neutrality Rules Were Repealed?
The Federal Communications Commission passed net neutrality otherwise known as the Open Internet Order in 2015 with President Obama but was unfortunately made irrelevant in 2018 with President Trump and the Restoring Internet Freedom Act. The Restoring Internet Freedom Act reversed many of the rules in net neutrality. One of the most important aspects is that the Restoring Internet Freedom Act reclassified broadband internet access service from an information service to telecommunication service.
This allows the internet to be seen as less essential and act less as our utility services do. Everything that net neutrality stood for is now allowed to happen again just as long as internet providers are transparent about those specific practices with their customers.
How Do These Repealed Rules Affect Me?
The repeal of net neutrality may or may not affect you at all right now, but it can in the future. Experts fear that the longer we go without net neutrality rules on the law books, the easier it’ll be for internet providers to slip away from the core principles of net neutrality.
So for right now it mostly depends on which internet provider you currently have and their stance on net neutrality which unfortunately can change at any time because there’s nothing making them do the right thing for free and open internet.
What Providers Do Not Support Net Neutrality?
Many opposed net neutrality due to their own special interests including internet providers, telecommunications companies, computer manufacturers, and more. Here are the internet providers that do not support net neutrality:
- AT&T: Misconstruing the California net neutrality law as a way to count their own streaming service HBO Max against their customers’ allotted data limits.
- Comcast: Although they say they do, their actions have proven otherwise like suing the state of California to stop its new net neutrality laws.
- Verizon: They actually sued the FCC in an attempt to stop net neutrality.
What Providers Support Net Neutrality?
Those opposed to net neutrality don’t want you to believe that anyone supports it, but there are many who do including internet providers, consumer advocates, human rights organizations, technology companies, and more. Here are the internet providers that do support net neutrality: