The words 'net neutrality' have been trending in the news lately, but what is it? Why does it matter? What are the arguments for and against net neutrality?
NBC 7 met with Ted Harrington, a local information technology and cybersecurity expert, to find out more.
According to Harrington, net neutrality is the idea that access to data on the internet should be equally available.
If net neutrality does not exist, it means that consumers may have to either pay more for access to certain types of content, or speeds might slow down for things they’re already accustomed to having access to.
"For instance, an I.S.P. – internet service provider – recognizes that consumers spend most of their time going to say, Facebook," Harrington explained. "Now, the I.S.P. could, in theory, create a business model where you have to pay more to access Facebook because they know that’s what people want."
Harrington drew examples of household bills. Right now, internet access is like an electricty bill, where you are not billed on the type you use. However, he said without net neutrality, internet access would be more like a cable bill, with different packages to access different websites.
The argument against net neutrality is that regulation stifles innovation, said Harrington.
He said this point of view suggests that the government dictating how private industry works potentially undermines the ability for innovators to create new services for customers, or to incentivize investments in certain parts of the service that could make them run better.