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The FCC, net neutrality and the effects on the consumer

Most Americans have probably heard of “net neutrality,” but many probably do not understand how it impacts their day-to-day lives.

Net neutrality is the Obama-era principle that says all web traffic must be treated equally. It is why content from all websites — assuming all else is equal — is delivered to users at the same speed. It prevents internet service providers from slowing or blocking websites and apps they don’t like. The internet has largely operated under this idea since its creation, though the regulations were only put into place in 2015.

Republicans, for the most part, see it as an overreaching government regulation that slows innovation. Democrats, generally speaking, do not.

The FCC on Thursday voted to end net neutrality rules. Consumer advocates fear that cable and phone companies will now be able to control what people see and do online.

It’s easy to see how this could go badly for customers. Service providers will now be able to throttle or block websites or streaming services from competitors. Comcast, in theory, could block or slow down Netflix content while at the time providing blazing fast access to its own content.

That hurts consumers and only benefits a handful of large companies — namely the internet service providers. They have pledged not to do this, but nothing will stop them.

We are generally for smaller government and less regulation, but there are situations when regulation is necessary. We think this is one of those situations.