You might have seen in the news about net neutrality, and you would be forgiven into thinking “what does this mean for me, it only affects America right?”, whereas this is true, it is definitely worth reading up on because it may happen here sooner than you think if it changes elsewhere.
Net neutrality was first coined in 2003 to describe the principle that ISP’s treat all data equally, creating a level playing field for all providers and not allowing companies to block out its competitors.
On a basic level, you can think of it as a bill from your electricity provider, they bill you for an amount of electric, which you are then free to use however you want.
What if they started dictating where you could use this electricity? This is exactly the same as what could happen if Net neutrality is abolished. It’s not to say they will do this, but the ability will be there for them to do this.
“If Net Neutrality gets taken away, your ISP can create packages to throttle your internet speed, efficiently putting a paywall onto fast internet.”
Perhaps the most significant worry when it comes to reading articles on net neutrality online is the fact that companies providing internet would effectively be able to dictate what you see online. This is particularly worrying for institutions where freedom of expression could be dictated by what you look at online, particularly educational institutes such as universities. With this new bill they could effectively steer you down a path to view only the content they want you to see.
If Net Neutrality gets taken away, your ISP can create packages to throttle your internet speed, efficiently putting a paywall onto fast internet. For small businesses, this could be a death sentence. Imagine If you loved Netflix but were not willing to pay the extra costs. It could result in SD only streaming and slower streaming speeds.
This can even extend to online gaming. Companies could potentially charge consumers for the ability to connect to a gaming server, we could even see in the future a fee for every hour of online gaming.
The UK is currently in a good position with an abundance of providers, which means if we are unhappy with our ISP we can move relatively easily. This is particularly good for people in areas where connection is rather limited, if net neutrality was abolished we could see this freedom of choice removed and we could all be forced to pay over the odds for a good connection.
We also have the EU’s regulation regarding open internet access which came into effect in October 2015. This regulation meant that ISP’s can’t block or slow down data. We have seen companies offering their own services first, which is understandable as they are a business first. However, we are currently able to get every service, on every provider no matter which ISP we are using. Removing this would really hinder new opportunities onto the market, in turn reducing innovation and competition.
So what are your thoughts on the matter? Does the future of the Internet sound like something you would like to keep utilising, at the expense of increased costs if neccessary? For consumers as well as businesses alike, it may be very well worth staying in the know with Net Neutrality, especially if it comes into debate over here, any time soon.