If you’re an internet user in just about any capacity, you’ll probably want to pay close attention to the Thursday vote at the Federal Communications Commission to approve a proposal by chairman Ajit Pai that would repeal net neutrality rules the FCC passed in 2015.
Much the same way other utilities are regulated, net neutrality rules require internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Charter, and AT&T to treat all web traffic equally. The FCC will share regulating duties with the Federal Trade Commission, with the FCC monitoring transparency among providers and the FTC playing the long arm of the law against ISPs who are unfair or deceptive toward users.
FCC commissioners are expected to approve the proposal, a move that has some digital rights activists, Democrats and consumers up in arms over the possibility that allowing ISPs to charge an additional fee to provide content at faster speeds to users willing to pay could mean the end of an open internet and drastic changes to the way we experience it. They also say it will limit competition among web companies. Chairman Pai and supporters of the repeal say it’s unlikely that ISPs will start to throttle or censor web content because it would damage their ability to adapt their service to what customers want.
So, what does this mean for your web browsing habits? How likely is this decision to drastically change the way we experience the internet? What does the decision mean for web companies? What are tech giants like Facebook and Google saying?