In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) determined that the Internet was a utility, like power or water, and that Internet Service Providers (ISP) should treat all online content equally and not charge differently for users visiting various websites or platforms. FCC Chair Ajit Pai has announced plans to do away with the Net Neutrality laws with a vote in mid-December.

Trump undoing Obama

Net Neutrality is another in a long string of Obama-era policies the Trump administration is seeking to undo. The move would remove the legal foundation for oversight and allow Internet Service Providers greater control over blocking access to content and setting up tiered plans.

This could require Internet users and website owners to pay more money for more access and higher speeds. Removing Net Neutrality would also give ISPs, which already have monopolies on Internet Access, even greater power.

Without Net Neutrality regulations, the Internet in America will work more like cable television. The bigger the package, the more access and speed an Internet user will have. This will also give ISPs the ability to limit their competition. For instance, Comcast could limit access to Netflix in order to promote their own cable services.

Most Americans want to keep Net Neutrality

While the repeal of Net Neutrality is favored by ISPs like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, a number of online platforms, like Netflix, Facebook, Reddit, Alphabet (Google's parent company), and Twitter oppose it.

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In June, a public opinion poll taken by Ipsos and Mozilla found that 76% of the American population also support Net Neutrality regulations, with 81% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans in favor of securing Internet access equality.

Pai argues that current regulations are an example of government overreach that stifles innovation. However, most Americans believe that not having the regulations would do even more to stifle innovation and would also promote censorship on the Internet while limiting free speech. Opponents of doing away with the regulations fear it would also work against small businesses, freelancers, and Internet startup companies.

The vote to gut the Net Neutrality regulations is scheduled for December 14 and is expected to pass 3-2 along party lines. Many Americans are protesting the move and contacting their representatives in Congress in hopes of keeping the regulations in place.