Last week Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its plan to reverse net neutrality regulations that were put in place under the Obama administration in 2015. Net neutrality is the concept that all internet traffic should be treated equally by internet service providers (ISPs), regardless of the content that is delivered or who it was created by.
The new proposal, named the Restoring Internet Freedom order, would no longer classify ISPs as public utilities but rather as information services, meaning that telecommunication companies such as Comcast or Verizon would be legally allowed to create so-called fast lanes for content by providers that either pay for preferential treatment or that the ISP itself has a financial stake in, such as Comcast has in NBC Universal. While the FCC argues that scrapping net neutrality rules would boost investments and innovation by limiting government regulation, advocates of net neutrality argue that the concept creates a level playing field for content providers and fear that getting rid of net neutrality would stifle competition and further increase concentration in the online media landscape.
As our chart, based on a Consumer Reports survey, shows, the majority of Americans support the current net neutrality rules and don’t think that ISPs should be allowed to regulate what content their customers can access. The FCC will vote on the order on December 14 and considering the Republican majority in the commission, it is expected to pass regardless of the vocal opposition from companies and consumers alike.