WTF is Net Neutrality?

By Lois Gilhooly

Everyone has probably seen #NetNeutrality all over twitter, but what actually is it and why does it matter to me?

Net neutrality is the idea that all Internet Traffic Providers are required to treat traffic from all websites equally, creating an even playing field online. Consumers can access everything, both big and small websites and companies, with no extra cost or limitations on content. However, recently the four main Internet Service Providers - Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner and AT&T - and those at the Federal Communications Commission want to stop this in order to make money as they feel net neutrality is limiting their potential to profit. 

This would lead to many websites being blocked for the average user, and only available to those willing to pay a subscription, making internet access a privilege for only those who can afford it. This is an idea of what internet use could look like without net neutrality:


Companies would effectively be blocked from the stock market because the ISPs would have the power to control everyone’s access and internet speed. This could destroy future companies starting up as they won’t be able to pay the ISPs the money that larger companies and websites can to access their content.

The ISPs will promote companies they favour and slow down or make companies they don’t favour inaccessible, such as Comcast slowing down connection for Netflix streaming in 2014. 

Although the vote is being held by the US government, this will inevitably have a global effect on internet use, and other fields such as scientific advances as they often rely on access to open data, and we won’t be able to buy edgy vintage pieces if small retailers can’t survive.

The petition to stop net neutrality coming to an end is linked below, because if Netflix are tweeting about it, you should probably be interested.