The end of net neutrality is a very serious issue for many Americans right now. The Federal Communication Commission has already voted to repeal it in an effort to (as far as they're concerned) “restore Internet freedom.” But it could have very damaging effects on the landscape of the Internet as we currently know it. Internet service providers could legally begin to decide what their customers can and can't see. They could throttle and otherwise prioritize Internet speeds to specific sites and services. Small businesses and individuals could become mere playthings for big corporations. Considering how many of us rely on the Internet for things like work and entertainment, we'd continue to buy in to their demands.
Explaining all of this is probably like beating a dead horse at this point. If you didn't originally know what net neutrality was, you almost certainly do now. It was a principal put into place in the United States way back in 2005 that stated that ISPs have to consider all Internet content and applications equal. They could not and cannot favor or block certain products or websites. In 2015, net neutrality was looked at seriously once again by the American government, at which point they reclassified the Internet. Before it was considered a luxury service, but after 2015 it was reclassified as a public utility.
Funny enough, many people were against this move in 2015, fearing strict government control on the Internet. The vast majority of people did not realize that some service providers were already throttling and blocking certain services. The fears of a government take-over were misplaced misunderstandings of what net neutrality actually is. The classification of the Internet as a utility further solidified the idea that no one (big businesses and the government alike) should have control over Internet speeds and content availability. Essentially no one could decide what was “more important” on the web.
In the span of time it took for the Internet to be labeled a utility and the beginning grumbles of net neutrality repeal, people already took it for granted. When the FCC first began to consider repealing net neutrality many figured it could never happen. It was too good of a principal for the modern world, “Who in their right mind would want to repeal it?” This led to the government going through many of the first steps of repeal before people finally realized how serious the issue was. It was only in the 11th hour that reality began to set in.
We are on the very precipice of net neutrality going the way of the dodo. And now that it's been around, you can bet your behind that the Internet providers have been getting all kinds of nefarious ideas. If they weren't thinking about throttling and parceling out services before, they almost certainly are now. (Especially since it's been thrust in their faces every time we talk about net neutrality.) Any ISP that wants to require you to pay more to access PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live services will be able to do so (as long as they tell you they're doing it). If you want to watch Netflix or Hulu, you'll possibly have to pay the subscription fee for that service, then another fee for a “streaming” package to your ISP. The same could potentially be true for things like Facebook or Twitter. You could be paying your regular Internet bill, and then another set amount of money to view social media services. This is already happening in other parts of the world, so it's not a stretch to say it could happen in America.
There are chances that net neutrality could still be saved, with organizations like Fight for the Future working hard to combat the repeal. Internet users of all shapes and sizes, including gamers, are still fighting and contacting their Senate representatives to implore them to reconsider their stance on net neutrality. It's always important to take advantage of every outlet you can to fight for what you believe in. But I feel it's also important to remind everyone that we have to prepare for the worst as well. If net neutrality is in fact repealed and ISPs begin to do all the things that we fear, the fight is certainly not over. While it might be very difficult to bring net neutrality back after its repeal, it's certainly not impossible. Who knows, maybe Americans will revolt and become their own Internet service providers? Some people have already done it.
The moral of the story is this: do your best not to take things for granted, because before you know it they might be gone. When something you believe in has the potential to come to an end, do what you can to fight it. And if it goes away anyway, don't give up hope, keep fighting the good fight, or find other ways to achieve the ideals you believe in. Net neutrality means a lot for gamers who want to have the freedom to play, explore, and adventure how they wish. The future is murky at the moment, but banded together, there's nothing we can't do.