The internet was arguably the greatest invention of the 20th century and has continued to be the driving force behind much of society. When it comes to the internet there is a principle that says that internet service providers must treat all data the same and not discriminate by users. This idea is called “net neutrality” and it is at risk.
Net Neutrality has come under threat multiple times over the years and is facing issues again, this time under FCC director Ajit Pai. Pai is making a big push to create a paid-for-use system of the internet. Essentially, if he gets his way internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon will have the ability to charge for use of the internet. Without net neutrality, these internet providers would be able to charge people depending on how much internet they used, charge websites more money to run and make certain websites load slower or faster.
The internet right now is incredibly free. A lot of parts of the internet pride themselves on freedom of speech and information and are strong believers in the internet being a human right. Because of this, the fight to end net neutrality has faced some extreme backlash. Petitions and protests have been set up across America, the FCC website has been hacked and crashed and the general outcry of the internet has spread like wildfire.
But it isn’t just the public fighting back, companies like Amazon and Google have publically announced their opposition and are rallying their users to fight back and tell the FCC that the internet should be free. Back in July, when net neutrality was last under siege a group of 170 organisations spent a day with altered websites protesting the end of net neutrality. Their websites displayed messages arguing against the fight, a lot of websites had buffering pages or slow loading times to demonstrate what could happen.
Luckily, if net neutrality was to be struck down in the UK it would only affect American based ISPS and wouldn’t be slowing down the speed or charging those outside of America. However, this doesn’t mean it is not a risk to the rest of the world. America is very much a leader in the political climate of the world and if they kill off net neutrality it is sure to happen to other countries. It is currently safe in much of Europe and enshrined under EU law but as the demand for internet across the world only grows, this could change in the future.