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Net Neutrality on YouTube: Explained

As a YouTube 🖥️ content creator, it’s important to understand net neutrality 🌐 and how it could affect you, if at all. 


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Some common questions YouTubers have about net neutrality are:

❓ What is net neutrality?

❓ Does net neutrality affect YouTube?

❓ Can ISPs slow down network connection?

❓ What is the law about net neutrality?

If you’re looking for the answer to these or other questions about net neutrality and what it means for content creators, be sure to read on. 

The history of net neutrality

For years, broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) such as AT&T and Spectrum have blocked ❌ harmful or potentially malicious websites, limiting their users’ access. 

However, in 2003, the term “net neutrality” was coined when consumers rose up and complained to the federal communications commission (or FCC) about their lack of access 🔒 to some virtual private networks. 

At this time, consumers argued that ISPs should remain net neutral and stop selectively blocking independent network access 👨‍💻. 

Between 2005 and 2009, consumer anger 💢 grew, as broadband ISPs were increasingly reported to the FCC for blocking Internet phone calls 📞, slowing down and speeding up Internet connections, and blocking the use of various apps. 

In almost every case filed, the FCC ordered ISPs to stop 🛑 discrimination against consumers. However, in each case, the ISPs sued the FCC and won 🏆.

Across all cases, the courts ruled that the ISPs were not utilities that the FCC could control. In other words, the FCC could not tell the ISPs to do anything.

Meanwhile, ISPs entered into zero-rating agreements. These agreements allow consumers free access to the content that the broadband ISP want the consumer to watch 📺. In this way, ISPs continued to gain more and more control over what consumers can and can’t do online.

The backlash ⚔️

In response to these rulings for ISPs’ free rein, supporters of net neutrality argued 🤼 that all content flowing through their cables and cell towers should be treated equally.

As a result, in 2015, the FCC passed the Open Internet Order 📜, which prohibited ISPs from blocking or prioritizing Internet traffic, and supporters of net neutrality rejoiced 🎉.

The repeal ⬅️

However, in 2017, the FCC reversed their decision to regulate ISPs by overturning the Open Internet Order. 

This step backwards ↩️ led the FCC into a plethora of #lawsuits by Mozilla and other industry organizations.  To this day, the Internet is fighting for the return of net neutrality.

Why repeal the Open Internet Order? 

The FCC cited three main arguments 🗯️ against net neutrality to support their decision to reverse the Open Internet Order:

  • Fastlane Speed Internet

In response to the Open Internet Order, ISPs argued that if the FCC can mandate equal access to the Internet, then they can’t charge more for fastlane 🛣️ speeds. In other words, the ISP wouldn’t be able to charge more for faster Internet. 

However, without charging consumers increased rates for faster Internet, ISPs can’t afford to build #infrastructure for 5G speeds. This conflict played a part in prompting the FCC to overturn their decision.

  • Market Regulation

Additionally, ISPs argued that the market should regulate them, not the FCC.

How would this work? 

If there is an ISP author that blocks access to a specific website, then consumers can decide to cancel service with that ISP and move on ➡️ to the next one. With consumers’ decision making at hand, the market would regulate itself to increase neutrality.

  • Privacy Infringement

Finally, ISPs claimed that FCC regulation equates to government control and government access to private communications systems. 

In other words, FCC regulation could potentially infringe on consumers’ privacy rights by granting the government access to private 🛡️ data. This access could lead to consumer information breaches. 

Rebuttals against these points

  • Fastline Internet speeds

Net neutrality advocates rebut the first argument by insisting that no one is claiming that large corporations like Coca-Cola shouldn’t pay more 💲 for Internet access than individual users.  

However, they also argue, large corporations should not be prioritized over individual users, as prioritizing large businesses over small consumers could potentially infringe upon the freedoms of creativity and expression 🎭 that are so important online. 

In other words, advocates claim that even with net neutrality, ISPs could still charge some customers more for faster Internet speeds, as long as those paying more were not prioritized over others.

  • Market regulations

Advocates for net neutrality respond to the second argument by claiming that, in the current state of Internet providers, a free market doesn’t even exist. 

A free market can only regulate consumers if consumers have a choice in what they buy. However, FCC data 📊 shows that a majority of households in America don’t have the ability to “choose” their broadband provider. 

In most cases, one provider such as Verizon and Comcast controls certain neighborhoods or geographical areas 📍, so consumers can’t switch companies if one blocks access to specific websites.

  • Privacy infringement

Unfortunately, even those in favor of net neutrality agree that government infringement on consumer privacy is a possible con. However, they argue that this risk is low ⬇️ because the government will not actively monitor 🔎 every Internet communication from an ISP to confirm that it complies with net neutrality.

Instead, the government will take a more passive approach that involves responding to consumer complaints 💬. 

Even so, advocates agree that this con of net neutrality is worth all of the pros that come along with it.

What now?

 As the law stands, net neutrality is not in effect. As a result, ISPs can block or slow the service on any website they choose. 

While the Save the Internet Act, which promotes net neutrality, has passed the House, it’s currently on its way to the Senate for approval. However, its prognosis for passing is low

If you support net neutrality, get in touch with your lawmakers and demand that they pass 👌 the Save the Internet Act.  It could have a bigger impact on your capabilities and success as a content creator than you may realize.