The openness of the internet is what has led to such a large scale growth of its usage and prevalence in the world. Network neutrality refers to the principle that states that all internet traffic must be treated equally by all Internet Service Providers (ISP) irrespective of the nature of data being transmitted through a connection. Where there is discrimination of internet traffic based on the type of data being transmitted or protocol used or source of data or destination of data or hardware used for communication or source network or any other method, net neutrality is being violated. It is important because it helps in freedom of communication and thus exchange of ideas/information.
The problem with absence of net neutrality is that different types of data or services provided by the Internet Service Providers can be charged at different rates for different types of data or protocol used or source of data or destination of data or hardware used for communication or source network or any other method. This way, a person’s access to the internet is dependent upon the wishes of the service provider.
It may happen that the service provider may get into a contract with a website that anyone who accesses the website will have faster bandwidth (and thus faster access) to the website as compared to its rival website whose bandwidth is throttled (or lowered, and hence slower access to the rival website). The worst case may come when an ISP may block access to a website or service altogether. For abusing net neutrality in such manners, the data or internet traffic being transmitted has to be checked by the ISP. Thus, privacy of communication is also being lost in the absence of net neutrality. For these reasons, net neutrality is essential to our everyday usage of the internet.
For Wikipedia entry on Net Neutrality, click here.
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