On December 14, the company will vote to repeal the net neutrality practices it put in place in 2015. With Republicans agents who oppose the rules outnumbering Democrats who support them three to two, the result of the vote isn’t in any doubt. Your objections and #netneutrality tweets will do nothing this is really happening.
Assuming the move isn’t prevented by the courts or overturned by Congress, it could thoroughly reshape the internet by giving an already strong group of telecommunications companies a great deal of control over what you can observe and do online. It will also likely leave you with expensive prices and fewer choices.
That’s all great news for the telecommunications giants but not so great for the rest of us.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should, in vague, treat all data sent over the network the same, no material whether it’s an email, an emoji sent over a chat service, a phone call, a political rant live-streamed by a college student from her parents’ cellar, or the modern show on Netflix. In particular, the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules bar ISPs from blocking, slowing, or implementing preferential treatment to particular sites and services.
The battle over the FCC’s rules appears amid a period of expanding consolidation among telecommunications and content organizations. Comcast owns NBC Universal. AT&T is in a fight to buy Time Warner. Verizon owns AOL and Yahoo. Those gatherings already had immense power over how you connect to the internet. But they now also have a big stake in what you see and do online.
The repeal of net neutrality will give these giant gatherings free rein to favor their own sites, services, and content, and separate against those of rivals. As long as they tell you what they’re doing, the government won’t stand in their way.