Why net neutrality is such a major issue, especially for millennials
What is net neutrality? It is the concept that internet service providers should treat all content the same – that they should not block particular websites or structure their rates to favor one kind of content over another. Also called “the open internet,” this vision of the web would prevent Comcast from offering a cheap internet package with content from NBC – which Comcast owns – but no content from CBS, ABC or Fox. adopted a set of rules aimed at guaranteeing net neutrality in February 2015. Under the new rules, internet service providers found themselves regulated like public utilities. In practical terms, the new rules barred them from favoring certain websites over others. They couldn’t engage in “paid prioritization,” where websites pay Internet Service Providers, so that consumers will be able to access their sites at higher speeds. The ISPs also couldn’t deliver their own content at higher speeds than that of other websites.
Why is net neutrality ending? Because Donald Trump won the presidency and therefore the right to make appointments to the FCC, the federal agency that oversees the internet. Now led by Republicans, the FCC voted in December to withdraw the Obamaera net neutrality rules and return to the looser regulatory structure that governed internet service from the 1990s through 2014. Republicans argue that the Obama-era rules saddled the ISPs with a costly regulatory burden that stopped them from expanding internet service.
Net neutrality supporters fear a new era where the ISPs can control what people see on the internet and find ever more creative ways to pay more for it. But supporters of a looser regulatory structure say none of those things have happened yet and are unlikely to happen so long as there’s competition for internet service – which, they say, will increase with less regulation.