The monopolies that dominate the internet service providing markets were probably rejoicing Monday morning as the wide open internet that the world has enjoyed since its inception came to an abrupt end. The net neutrality protections that the Obama administration put in place were a thing of the past as of 12:01 a.m., possibly ushering in era of internet regulations that will all but assure higher costs and slower speeds for everyone from casual users to people who work online.
The government has said the end of net neutrality is based on protecting consumers, but free speech advocates have begged to differ.
“The bottom line is that our regulatory framework will both protect the free and open internet and deliver more digital opportunity to more Americans,” Federal Communications Chairman (FCC) Ajai Pai wrote in a cnet op-ed published Sunday night. “Our goal is simple: better, faster, cheaper internet access for American consumers who are in control of their own online experience.”
But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has maintained that the FCC’s description omits several key points that were poised to affect the everyday internet user. The end of net neutrality “means your internet service provider will be able to engage in content based discrimination,” the ACLU wrote last week. “Internet content it likes — for political or financial reasons — will be delivered at top speeds, while content it disfavors will be slowed or even blocked.”
So which is true?
Only time will tell. But the threat of slower internet speeds being charged at a higher rate, while probably not immediate, was very realistic. Still, when, not if, the changes are implemented, it may not be overtly apparent, according to Slate.
“In order for those working for a more open internet to have any chance at success, users are going to have to continue to care and speak out about why open internet protections matter to them—even, perhaps especially, if it’s not immediately clear anything has changed,” Slate wrote Monday.