Net neutrality is an idea derived from how telephone lines have worked since the beginning of the 20th century. In case of a telephone line, you can dial any number and connect to it. It does not matter if you are calling from operator A to operator B. It doesn’t matter if you are calling a restaurant or a drug dealer. The operators neither block the access to a number nor deliberately delay connection to a particular number, unless forced by the law. Most of the countries have rules that ask telecom operators to provide an unfiltered and unrestricted phone service.
When this analogy is applied to internet it is known as net neutrality. An ISP does not control the traffic that passes its servers. When a web user connects to a website or web service, he or she gets the same speed. Data rate for Youtube videos and Facebook photos is theoretically same. Users can access any legal website or web service without any interference from an ISP.
Some countries have rules that enforce net neutrality but most don’t. Instead, the principle is followed because that is how it has always been. It is more of a norm than a law.
What happens when there is no net neutrality?
The idea that ISPs shouldn’t be able to throttle your internet speeds or limit access to parts of the web based on the sites you’re visiting — is tough because it’s often met with glassy-eyed stares. Now, rather than trying to explain, you can just show.
Chrome extension Removal of Net Neutrality Simulator shows users just what the internet would be like if the FCC really goes through with its plan to dismantle net neutrality as we know it.
Once you install the extension, you’ll instantly see its effects. First, your internet will be significantly slower. Without net neutrality, ISPs would be free to throttle your internet speeds without restriction. With this extension, some sites are simply inaccessible. If you try to load Netflix, you’re told to use Hulu instead. If you want to Google something, you’re going to have to Bing it.
Of course, we don’t know exactly what the internet would look like without net neutrality or how ISPs would take advantage of lifted restrictions. But this extension gives a “worst case scenario” experience, and it’s a great way to raise awareness and get people to care about why net neutrality matters.