An Open Internet

Since June 2015, the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) net neutrality laws have ensured that broadband users in the United States have had access to a fair and open internet. The Open Internet rule requires that all internet service providers (ISPs) treat all online content equally. But ever since the idea was first floated, it has been the subject of much debate.

Today, another court ruling has propelled its fate forward as a tweet from Lawrence Hurley, a Reuters journalist covering the U.S. Supreme Court, revealed that a U.S. appeals court has declined to reconsider the Open Internet rule.

The decision is a victory for net neutrality supporters, as it means the rules will remain in place. But Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is still committed to rolling back the regulation, a process he claims the commission will begin on May 18.

Soon-To-Be Closed?

Net neutrality laws prevent ISPs such as AT&T or Verizon from playing gatekeeper between you and the information you want to access online.

Without these laws, ISPs could choose to block content, slow down certain sites, or prioritize certain users. For example, if you access the internet via AT&T, your provider could choose to block access to the site of a competitor, such as Verizon. Without net neutrality laws, an ISP could choose to slow down your access to a site like Netflix, which uses a lot of bandwidth, unless the company agrees to pay more for a "fast lane."

If we eliminate net neutrality laws, the internet is essentially for sale to the highest bidder. Smaller companies may never get the opportunity to grow as access to the public is bought out from under them.

Some members of the government are committed to ensuring net neutrality laws remain in place, but it'll be up to U.S. citizens to ensure that we continue to have access to an open internet. As written by several members of Congress in a recent Washington Post op-ed, "[W]ith powerful forces pushing to get rid of net neutrality — Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and other multibillion-dollar companies — it's going to take Americans speaking up to protect the internet that we depend on."

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