Even with 14.5 million legitimate comments against the potential new net neutrality rules, the Federal Communications Commission approved to repeal their only two-year-old rules that prevented internet providers from blocking and throttling traffic and offering what is referred to as paid "fast lanes."
The new rules largely don’t prevent internet providers from doing anything. They can block, throttle, and prioritize content if they wish to. The only real rule is that they have to publicly state that they’re going to do it.Advocates say internet providers will prioritize their own content over their competitors.
Net neutrality advocates believe that without these rules, internet providers will be able to control traffic in many ways, including prioritizing their own content companies (e.g. Comcast and NBCUniversal) to get more views, thereby making their content more valuable. They can also incentivize certain behaviors by consumers, like giving away certain services for free, while upcharging for streaming another brand's services.
So what can you expect to change now that net neutrality is over? Not all that much — not overnight, at least. Rather than large swaths of the internet suddenly becoming unavailable or only offered for a fee, internet providers will likely continue to explore subtler methods of advantaging themselves and their partners, like offering data to use certain services for free or speeding up delivery of their own content.
These are things that may initially sound good. But in the long run, they disadvantage upstarts that don’t have the money to pay up. The problem is that, eventually, we may not know what products and services we missed out on because they never made it through the mess.