There has been a lot of talk about net neutrality. Those for and those against are all vocal. But what exactly is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the principle that individuals should be free to access all content and applications equally, regardless of the source, without Internet Service Providers (ISP) discriminating against specific online services or websites. In principle, the company that connects you to the internet does not get to control what you do on the internet.

Without net neutrality rules in place, ISPs can prevent users from visiting some websites, provide slower speeds for streaming services, or even redirect users from one website to a competing website. .

Net neutrality rules prevent this by requiring ISPs to connect users to all lawful content on the internet equally, without giving preferential treatment to certain sites or services.

Legislators have been busy weighing in on the federal court decision upholding the FCC’s decision to deregulate internet access – in other words, removing those net neutrality rules.

Senate Commerce Committee chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), put out a joint statement that avoided taking sides on the decision, instead talking about finding some path forward.

“Today’s ruling makes clear that Title II regulations are not required for maintaining an open internet,” said Wicker. “It is incumbent on Congress to pass federal net neutrality standards that will protect consumers, promote broader access to the internet, and ensure internet providers treat content from all sources fairly. We need straightforward guidelines that will not change based on who occupies the White House. I look forward to continuing to work toward these goals with Senator Sinema as we seek to find common ground on this important issue.”

Though it is nice to see a bi-partisan effort toward this initiative, the silver lining in the recent ruling, was the court struck down the part of the FCC’s 2017 rules that attempted to preempt state net neutrality rules. That reaffirms legislation and executive orders across the country that seek to preserve the pre-2017 status quo in which companies could not mess with websites’ and customers’ access to the internet. Nine states—Hawaii, Montana, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Rhode Island, California, Montana, and Vermont—have passed their own net neutrality rules. Another 27 states have seen legislation proposed to protect net neutrality.

Additionally more than 100 mayors of cities across the country likewise have pledged not to sign contracts with internet providers that violate net-neutrality principles.

This will be an interesting topic to monitor and see where the labyrinth-like path takes it and the Internet users.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.