There’s been much debate recently over the subject of net neutrality, which is the principle how internet service providers (ISP) must treat all data on the web the same.
This means everyone who uses the internet, regardless of their ISP, will have the same accessibility to all online content.
ISPs cannot then intentionally block, slow down or charge money for particular websites and online content as it would be discrimination.
The law which looks after this has been in place since 2015, when former president Barack Obama’s Democrats controlled the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The FCC looks after net neutrality in America but recently, certain companies have come out opposed to the idea calling for change.
Broadband services such as AT&T and Comcast, who are two of the biggest ISP providers in the US, argue the government have too much involvement and the law reduces drive for the companies to invest and improve.
In only a few weeks these companies may get what they want, as the FCC will vote over the issue.
The new chairman of the commission, Ajit Pai, is very much for eliminating net neutrality and those voting to end it have a 3-2 edge.
It looks like it’s certain net neutrality is coming to an end in the US.
Once this golden era is over, ISPs will be able to charge websites for ‘fast lanes’, meaning smaller providers could be regulated to the slow lane.
Some of the biggest companies on the web, like Netflix, Google and Amazon, will have to put extra money towards this to no benefit of the consumers.
In fact, it’s the ISPs who benefit with us as the consumer, being charged higher for our internet service.
Unsurprisingly, everyone appears to hate the idea of net neutrality coming to an end, except the ISPs themselves, who look set to make even more money.
Only a couple of years ago, previous FCC chief, Tom Wheeler, proposed the change but the public outcry which followed, was enough to encourage him to quickly reserve his announcement.
According to Forbes, Wheeler is now criticising Pai for once again suggesting net neutrality is put to bed.
If it does come to an end, ISPs have said they’ll not antagonise customers by bundling websites together in a package you have to pay for.
However, who knows what you can expect as greed can get to the best of all of us.
Content providers favoured by ISPs are also likely to be given preferential treatment, which will again make things much more difficult for smaller companies.
You won’t be able to rely on popular content to make your website a thriving online business, as companies will also need to raise a lot of money in order to pay ISPs or they’ll see themselves in the slow lane.
Luckily, for us in the UK, net neutrality is protected under British law thanks to the European Union’s regulation on Open Internet Access principles.
For now, we don’t have to worry, but with Brexit on the horizon, who knows what the future holds?
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.