How Repealing Net Neutrality Impacts On-line Shopping and the Open Internet

Bucky LaFountain

net neutrality

Before diving into how the repeal of net neutrality impacts on-line shopping and the open internet as a whole let me explain what Net Neutrality is. At its core Net Neutrality was introduced as a principle supporting the fact that that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally regardless of the type of content or its provider. This principle, at its essence, protects smaller content and service providers from giants like Comcast and AT&T, providers that favor their personal content over their competitors'. For instance, according to, before Net Neutrality was implemented Comcast and other providers were secretly throttling the access to certain peer-to-peer file sharing application and video streaming services. Net Neutrality helped end these deceptive practices by keeping the internet an open medium which everyone can use equally. With this basic understanding of Net Neutrality let's investigate how repealing this legislation could impact individual users and small businesses.

Repealing Net Neutrality will allow for additional control and flexibility to all Internet Service Providers (or ISP's). For instance, ISP's will be able to structure their internet services into packages similar to how Cable television offers its packages. As an example, a subscriber could be forced to pay higher rates to access certain types of content and/or services. Repealing Net Neutrality gives the ISP's the abililty to segregate their services into fast and slow lanes of bandwidth and/or data traffic. This type of structure may create an obstacle to business development and therefore hinder small business from developing with stability and confidence making it increasingly more difficult to compete with larger competitors

According to Reuters, one of the main concerns of repealing net neutrality is that ISP's could unilaterally slow internet connections down for specific websites and services creating a huge disadvantage for those particular websites. The internet service providers could also have the ability to promote their personal content while charging extra fees to be paid to access third party content and/or services on-line. Repealing Net Neutrality could allow providers to block certain websites and make them "pay for view", forcing end users to pay additional fees to access the websites.

Here is a list of some basic items that net neutrality currently protects consumers from and that repealing jeopardizes.

  • Bandwidth Throttling
  • Offering Fast and Slow Lanes (making it difficult for smaller sites to remain competitive)
  • Content/Site Packaging (similar to cable television channel packaging)
  • Discouraging an equal and open internet
  • Labeling certain websites "Pay per View" only
  • Control over the access of internet based information

Repealing net neutrality allocates more control over how and what can be accessed over the internet by the internet service providers. This action threatens the basic idea behind an equal and open internet while providing wealthy Americans with an unfair advantage over the less fortunate. In fact, could repealing net neutrality create an informational inequality gap similar to that of the income inequality in this country? Could this repeal even threaten our basic freedom of speech rights within this digital realm?

Computer World


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