Net Neutrality in a Nutshell

Net Neutrality is very important. For both website operators and the average user. It’s a much-talked-about subject, though far too many people have no clue what it means. Despite the somewhat boring name, Net Neutrality is something that everyone (who isn’t the RIAA, the MPAA, or the big ISPS) wants. Let me try to explain what it is…

An “un-neutral” internet is what is called a “tiered internet,” meaning not all data packets are equal. On a tiered internet, ISPs may speed up, slow, or totally block traffic depending on its origin, destination, or type. Your ISP could stop your from using BitTorrent, slow down your transfer speeds when your accessing YouTube, or redirect you to Yahoo when you try to access Google. Or they could insert some ads of their own into web pages as they travel between server and client. Why would they do that? Money. By blocking BitTorrent, they would prevent you from using as much bandwidth. Redirecting one site to another? They might do that if they were paid enough.

While tiered internet traffic is annoying enough for the end user, it’s even worse for the websites. Let’s use YouTube as an example. They’re already paying for their servers to have access to the internet, right? Well with a tiered internet, a few ISPs could decide to block, or slow down, access to YouTube, unless YouTube were to pay them a bribe to let them through. Insane? You bet.

The concept behind Net Neutrality is “all traffic is equal,” meaning “no tampering with packets as they travel through the tubes.” A simple enough concept, but an important one that needs to be enacted. After all, be don’t want the internet to be like this, do we?