KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Net neutrality. In the last couple of weeks, it’s probably popped up in your Newsfeed or Timeline with memes, videos or posts urging you to take action.
As it currently exists, you can access all the internet you want, any site you want, at relatively the same speed.
But the Federal Communications Commission could vote to change the rules of net neutrality, allowing providers to charge more for different download speeds, among other things.
“Net Neutrality, which we have now, says the internet is an essential part of today’s life, and everybody gets it at the same price,” said Bernie Rhodes, a media lawyer and partner with the KC law firm Lathrop and Gage.
In simple terms, Rhodes said internet service providers are treated like a utility under net neutrality.
“The water company can’t charge you more to take a bath than to fill your kitchen sink to make Kool-Aid,” Rhodes said. “Water is water. We believe water is essential part of life, and we’re going to charge you — everybody — the same.”
But although we can all agree everybody needs water, the FCC thinks we no longer need an open internet, Rhodes said.
The FCC is scheduled to vote on repealing net neutrality next week. If that happens, Rhodes said the internet becomes more like cable TV: You may have to pay extra to use different websites.
“Clearly the biggest beneficiary of the elimination of net neutrality are the internet service providers,” Rhodes said. “They are allowed to charge more money.”
The idea is that the more money internet service providers can charge you to access the web and all its various sites, then the companies will use that extra money to provide additional services.
On Monday, Fox 4 contacted the FCC, which is now lead by a Parsons, Kansas, native and former lawyer for internet service provider Verizon. FCC media spokesman Neil Grace responded with a document that explains frequently asked questions.