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Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

What the Heck Is Net Neutrality?

And Why Does It Matter?


Net Neutrality is the basic principle that Internet service providers treat data on the Internet all the same and prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down, or blocking any content, applications, or websites that you would want to use.

Net neutrality prevents companies from requiring a fee to get their content delivered more quickly than their competitors and from blocking customer access.

Right now Net Neutrality allows the internet to be free and open. Taking it away would allow cable and phone companies to control the speed of the internet.

An ISP, or internet service provider, could slow down its competition’s content or block opposing political opinions. The ISP would have the power to charge extra fees for faster service. Taking net neutrality would take away the equality and freedom we currently have online.

Under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) director Ajit Pai’s proposal, telecom companies would be allowed to sell a basic internet plan that could include only limited access to Google and email. They could charge extra for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The consequences for ending net neutrality affect marginalized communities including people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, religious minorities, and those who use open internet services to organize, access economic and educational opportunities, and resist systemic discrimination.

Taking away the free internet would take away a platform for people to speak freely online.

This will also affect business owners, startups, and entrepreneurs, who rely on the open web to launch their businesses and promote their services.

If net neutrality were to end, there is no guarantee for consumers’ privacy and protection against fraudulent billing and price gouging by broadband providers.

The FCC would need to oversee the broadband ISPs or else these providers could misuse their power such as doubling prices overnight. However, the FCC plans to leave the future of the internet into the hands of a few large telecom companies where they are expected to be voluntarily “transparent.”

It should be the people’s voice whether or not to have net neutrality, and taking it away is not what people want. People have been commenting at fcc.gov/ecfs to preserve net neutrality. To comment, the proceeding number is 17-108, and, amazingly, it is called “Restoring Internet Freedom.” You can also sign the petition circulating to Pai to leave net neutrality alone.



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