The end of net neutrality could change how you use the internet

By Eve Taft, Staff Writer

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that net neutrality may soon be a thing of the past. The ultimate ruling will occur on Dec. 14. If passed, the ruling would reverse the 2015 regulations that made net neutrality law in the U.S.

In case you don’t know (and at this point, are too afraid to ask), net neutrality means that internet service providers (ISPs) provide access to all content equally. For example, Facebook doesn’t run faster than your Jonas Brothers fan blog from 2007. If you pay for internet access, you pay for the whole web.

Without net neutrality, companies can decide what gets to you, how fast and for how much money. This, of course, brings up a lot of questions about free speech and what moral responsibility we have to keep the web open.

Another relevant question: how will this affect your binge-watching habits? Netflix has said plenty about the issue by condemning this latest attack on net neutrality. Streaming on sites like Netflix or Hulu could cost much more if ISPs were allowed to charge by content type. Quality and speed of streaming could begin to vary based on cost. In short, binge-watching could get a whole lot more expensive.

But what if you get your content through somewhat less legal means? Some people think that the end to net neutrality might lead to an increase in piracy. However, ISPs may simply not provide access to illegal streaming websites. This means the days of piracy could be over.

Net neutrality has been a hot button issue ever since the FCC’s announcement. Whichever side you take, one thing is certain: this ruling has the potential to change everything.

This article first appeared in the Friday, December 1, 2017, Edition of The Echo.