Net neutrality is synonymous with open internet wherein no restriction is imposed on the content or communication mode viewed or used by individuals. In the technical jargon, it implies that the Internet Service Provider cannot block or discriminate against any internet application over its network. In common parlance, when net neutrality is violated by ISPs, it is equivalent to saying that your phone company decides which contacts you can speak to over its network and what you can say.
Why is it important?
Net neutrality promotes free speech and allows us to avail applications that can significantly bring down the amount earlier expended on conventional modes of communication.
Small and nascent businesses whose survival solely is dependent on the free internet and the vivid applications, they often have to suffer most from curbing of net neutrality. Launching businesses, creating niche markets, advertising, products/ services, taking orders etc. is facilitated by internet at a fraction of the cost one had to spend erstwhile on traditional media. As the internet allows startups to establish themselves, it simultaneously promotes proliferation of employment opportunities, innovative approach and competition.
Nobody can stake claim on the ownership of web platform and consequently internet provides a free and fair playing ground for all. If net neutrality is compromised, dominating agencies can connive with ISPs to slow down adversaries’ content to gain an edge in the stiff competition. ISPs can collude with giants to obscure content that may be taking away sizeable chunk of business from major players. The markets would once again get cornered by prominent players, prices would shoot up, and gullible consumers would be constrained to shell out more money for items that would otherwise be available at competitive rates.
Internet has been predominantly responsible for voicing of unprejudiced public opinion. As its freedom would get curbed, political players can exert influence over the ISPs to discontinue broadcasting of content that sympathize with the dissenting partners. We would be compelled to view content that the dominant party deems suitable.
ISPs would enjoy the freedom to conspire against the wallet of the general public by setting exorbitant and discretionary charges for availing different services that people have become addicted to and can’t isolate themselves at a moment’s notice. Common man would be deprived of the basic net amenities for which internet builders have stood for. Without net neutrality, the world of internet would be doomed to relegate to the dark ages wherein every service would come for a premium. If you can afford the same, you can avail it. ISPs would also provide preferential treatment to the companies that would pay extra fees which imply that other content would be relegated to slow paced tier. People would certainly run out of patience trying to access these sites and would have to rely on services of privileged few companies and content providers.
Net neutrality should stay. Else, the gatekeepers of Internet aka ISPs would menacingly control the media and seize the slightest opportunity to profit from it. The very purpose of the Internet would be undermined without net neutrality.