Net Neutrality is Dead, and Why You Should CareFebruary 2nd, 2014
Net neutrality has been a hot topic in the internet world, but many people have no idea why it’s important. The linked article gives the best definition that I’ve seen. Essentially, without net neutrality, your ISP and other network providers can play god in regards to the content you receive. They can block certain sites or give preferential treatment to sites. They can demand that a content provider (e.g., Google) pay them in order to not have their content receive degraded performance. This is not hypothetical—I remember reading about how the CEO of a major network provider wanted to charge companies like Google for the traffic coming over its system, even though the network provider’s subscribers were already paying for that access. He saw it as a source of additional income and was upset that Google didn’t have to pay to use the company’s network.
This goes against everything the internet stands for, of course, so the FCC instituted a regulation enforcing net neutrality. The FCC, however, doesn’t have the authority to make that kind of regulation, and the courts recently struck it down. Congress could make a law enforcing net neutrality, but somewhere along the line this topic became a partisan political issue. Not sure why that’s the case, but the end result is that congress is unlikely to pass any legislation in the foreseeable future.
Only time will tell what the major ISPs and network providers do with their new freedom, but I think it’s going to be ugly.