What is net neutrality? Trump-era regulations could ruin the internet for you

Update: The FCC officially repealed net neutrality on Monday, June 11th.

Net neutrality has been an internet buzzword for the past few years. And as of November 21st, 2017 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to begin the rollback of Obama-era net neutrality regulations. But what exactly does that mean?

Net neutrality is the idea that internet providers, like Comcast and Verizon, have no control over what we view online or how fast it downloads (in other words, they’re neutral). Because of net neutrality, your Netflix videos load just as fast as this article. But if the net neutrality repeal passes, providers like Comcast could charge certain websites more money than others to maintain the same download speeds.

This could dramatically change your internet experience.

"Without net neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the internet into fast and slow lanes," the pro-net neutrality group Free Press said in a statement to CBS. "An [internet service provider] could slow down its competitors' content or block political opinions it disagrees with."

In a phone survey from Consumer Reports, 57 percent of Americans were in favor of keeping net neutrality rules the same.

Supporters of eliminating net neutrality say that doing so will increase competition among service providers, creating cheaper and faster internet for consumers.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who used to be an attorney for Verizon, has said that the current net neutrality rules are too strict and hurt businesses. In his new plan, “The Restoring Internet Freedom Order,” he proposes removing many of the regulations on service providers.

"Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet," Pai said in a statement. "Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate."

Regardless of your personal stance, the repeal of these regulations could mean huge changes for the internet. Here’s to hoping our Netflix binge sessions remain safe and affordable.