What is Net Neutrality — And How is it Changing?

Net neutrality. You’ve likely heard the term before — but do you really know what it is? These two words affect the way that we access and consume information on the internet. And recently, a lot has changed. Here’s what you need to know.

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality was developed to keep internet service providers from adjusting our access to certain sites over others. In this case, “adjusting” can mean speeding up, slowing down or restricting access entirely. Essentially, it was considered a law that protected the free and open internet.

There were three key rules of net neutrality: no blocking, no throttling and no paid prioritization.

  • No blocking: This means that an internet service provider can’t restrict a user from visiting a certain website.
  • No throttling: This means that an internet service provider can’t purposefully adjust the speed of one website over another.
  • No paid prioritization: This means that websites can’t pay internet service providers more money in exchange for a faster consumer connection.

How’d we get here? The history of net neutrality.

In the early 2000s, internet service providers had freedoms that they didn’t have under net neutrality. Like restricting customers from using a Virtual Private Network, blocking phone calls from certain apps and slowing down connections based on the site being accessed. These issues inspired the Federal Communications Commission to create and back the net neutrality bill. And in 2015, the Obama administration officially passed the law. However, in December of 2017, the government repealed net neutrality, and many changes are expected to occur from this action.

So what’s next? The future of net neutrality.

Now that the government has voted to repeal net neutrality, many things remain up in the air. Although it’s likely that any changes will happen slowly and not all at once, there are several things that we can expect:

  • For starters, internet service providers will now be able to decide which sites get the fastest priority connections. In other words, if your provider has a partnership with a certain video-streaming company, they may decide to prioritize its content over the competitor’s.
  • Internet service providers will likely start to develop and roll out a variety of new plans in the near future. These plans will include more personalized options and wider price ranges. The good news here is that you’ll be able to customize your plan — the bad news is that it may very well cost more.
  • Internet service providers will begin posting their policies online in an effort to be transparent. Now that they are no longer required to offer the same standards of service for every site, many internet service providers are detailing exactly what their customers can expect. These statements will be accessible to consumers, and can change over time (so check back).

Though it has been repealed, many aspects of net neutrality still remain in flux. Some states, for instance, are trying to restore net neutrality, and the Senate is vying to maintain the law. In other words, the real future of net neutrality is rapidly evolving now more than ever, so stay tuned.


Finley, Klint. (N.D.) A Brief History of Net Neutrality. https://wired.com/amp-stories/net-neutrality-timeline/

Khan, Sheheryar. (2018, February 23.) Debate Against and For Net Neutrality. https://purevpn.com/blog/arguments-against-net-neutrality/

Anderson, Mae. (2018, June 11.) ‘Net Neutrality’ Is Ending. Here’s How Your Internet Use Could Change. https://pbs.org/newshour/nation/net-neutrality-is-ending-heres-how-your-internet-use-could-change