We all must have heard the term ‘Net Neutrality‘ but only a few of us would know about it. When we go online we expect to be connected to whatever website we want and to have access to whatever content we want. In other words, we expect that our internet service provider isn’t messing with the data and is connecting us to all websites, applications and content we choose.
What is Network Neutrality?
When Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, he didn’t need to ask any internet service providers to add the site to their networks. Neither did he have to pay these companies extra fees to ensure that Facebook would work as well as the websites of established companies. Instead, as soon as he created the Facebook website, it was automatically available from any internet connected computer in the world.
That’s network neutrality.
Net Neutrality or Network Neutrality is the key criterion that hinders internet service providers from interfering with the speed or blocking any content or websites we want to use. It means that ISPs should provide us with open networks and should not block or distinguish between any applications run over those networks. Just as our phone company should not decide who we call and what we say on that call, our ISP should not interfere with the content we view or post online.
In absence of Net Neutrality, internet providers could dissect the internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors’ content or can even block it. Few content companies that could afford to pay for special treatment pay extra to ISPs thus passing on everyone else to a slower layer of service which would destroy the open internet.
What’s the argument for network neutrality?
Supporters say that because of network neutrality there has been so much innovation on the internet over the last two decades and freedom has allowed the creation of dozens of innovative online services such as Google, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon, Skype, and more. Network neutrality provides equal opportunities for new websites and internet applications to establish themselves amongst the user space.
They worry that without net neutrality, the internet would become less congenial to new companies and innovative ideas. For example, if large ISPs begin to charge extra from video streaming sites to deliver video content to the customers, it could not be easy to negotiate deals with dozens of network owners for the next YouTube to get traction.
In February 2015, the Federal Communications Commission(FCC) approved new and stronger network neutrality rules that regulate internet access like a public utility. Network neutrality supporters hailed the proposal but the opponents say it will lead to excessive regulation of the internet. The regulations also face challenges in the courts as multiple telecom industry groups have sued to stop the new rules arguing that they exceed the FCC’s authority.
We all should be in favor of Network Neutrality as it treats all the data on the Internet the same and does not distinguish or charge differently by user, website, platform or application. Under these principles, internet service providers are not able to interfere with the speed or charge money for specific websites and online content.
P.S. The views mentioned in favor of Network Neutrality are completely mine and may vary individual to individual.