Everything you wanted to know about Net Neutrality but were too afraid to ask

By Jorisse G | Friday, 21 July 2017

The internet provides different experiences for different people based on what they want to see. Enjoyed by consumers and businesses alike, this degree of freedom is made possible by net neutrality, the guiding principle of the internet.

This neutrality allows people to freely communicate online in an internet that enables and protects their right to free speech. This means that internet service providers (ISPs) provide open networks without blocking or discriminating against content or websites.

The risks associated with the removal of net neutrality can seriously affect daily life and how people interact on the web. How and why? Read on to know more about this important principle.

What exactly is net neutrality?

The rules around neutrality allow people to make their own choices on what sites and apps work best for them and their needs. These rules make the internet free, so to speak. Without rules in place, ISPs will be able to select which apps and websites you can visit. They can speed them up, slow them down, or block them outright.

How it works is that ISPs can prioritise websites that pay extra fees as opposed over those that don't. In addition, ISPs could also add more to your monthly internet bill by charging you more when you access sites that use more data.

Why is it so important for business and daily life?

Net neutrality prevents ISPs from interfering with consumers' choices in browsing. With the rules in place, they are unable to manipulate access as they please. This means that an ISP's business agenda, pushing certain products and services, is not allowed.

Without it, the internet as we know it would cease to exist. The open internet helped usher in innovation and became a platform for people without a voice. Without it, the web is a closed network ruled by companies deciding which websites or apps can succeed.

Tech giants generally love it

Net neutrality receives strong backing from tech giants that flourished under open internet rules. These include companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and Netflix.

These companies argue that net neutrality helped them to establish their businesses and ultimately succeed. They view net neutrality as something that can also help new businesses to pave their own path to future online success.

Net neutrality today

Recently, net neutrality has made the rounds of the news as the biggest companies on the net urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to preserve net neutrality rules.

The group argues that an open internet encourages openness and non-discrimination. This benefits consumers and society at large. This responds to current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's campaign to repeal the legal framework that forms net neutrality.

It's important to keep yourself informed on what net neutrality means today, especially since changes could be in place soon. Internet neutrality is essential for startups, small business owners and entrepreneurs that rely on an open internet to launch websites, create ad campaigns and reach more customers. It's what nurtures growth, innovation and competitiveness.