Net neutrality refers to the premise that all Internet service providers should treat all data that flows through their networks equally. It is the principle that defines the Open Internet by stating that data should not be charged or delivered differently based on content, platform, site, mode of communication or application. Under net neutrality, consumers are free to choose their Internet provider.
When a person accesses the Internet through a connected device, all content and media is received at relatively similar speeds to other users. The traffic created from browsing is treated equally by the service providers and the “interconnect” companies that route traffic to through the service provider.
The Federal Communications Commission is the government body responsible for regulating how service providers handle traffic. As of 2014, the FCC is considering a framework that would allow service providers to offer better access to websites that pay to reach users faster. This system would eliminate the core principles of net neutrality.
Opponents of “pay-to-play” Internet believe that the system destroys innovation by creating barriers for new websites with marginal budgets. Moreover, the proposal only requires service providers to offer a baseline level of service, which could potentially create a significant gap regarding browsing speeds and quality between users and corporations.