Net neutrality has been in the news a lot the past few years and is an important and heated debate, but do you really know what it means? To start, the term came from a Columbia University professor named Tim Wu. The Federal Communications Commission is at the heart of the debate and I think they have one of the best explanations: “The ‘Open Internet’ is the Internet as we know it. It’s open because it uses free, publicly available standards that anyone can access and build to, and it treats all traffic that flows across the network in roughly the same way. The principle of the Open Internet is sometimes referred to as ‘net neutrality.’” Net neutrality can be thought of in the sense of a society; with net neutrality every person in this Internet society is equal, no one is slower or faster, and everyone is allowed to hang out with whomever they want.
What does this exactly mean for the consumer, what could happen without it? Well the big ISPs would be put in a position to be able to charge whatever they want for the content they choose to allow, leaving the consumer at the whims of the ISPs in terms of pricing and usage. No one wants to be told how they can use their internet or even worse have someone else be in total control of it. The FCC is currently reviewing their policy on net neutrality and has collected over a million comments from the American people regarding the issue.
“Creativity, innovation and a free and open marketplace are all at stake in this fight”
– Eric Schmidt, Google CEO
“I personally, the position of my administration, as well as a lot of the companies here, is that you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to different users. You want to leave it open so the next Google and the next Facebook can succeed.”
– President Barack Obama
If you’re more a visual learner check out this really cool video that explains net neutrality in more detail: