The open internet/net neutrality laws that ensure you're able to access all the (legal) sites and apps you want are weeks away from being killed.
The FCC will vote on Dec. 14 to change the way internet providers are regulated, the agency announced. Opting to dismantle the 2015 rules would open the door for internet service providers (Comcast, AT&T, CenturyLink, etc.) to block or slow down content – and then further charge you out the wazoo to regain access.
This roll back of net neutrality protections is months in the making, and has been spearheaded by FCC chair Ajit Pai. He has argued the open internet regulations stifle innovation investments in the technology.
The whole net neutrality concept can feel sort of abstract.
So here are five visuals to help you get a feel for how exactly your life could be impacted if the FCC undoes the open internet rules.
That site is blocked!
Pro-net neutrality websites used pop-ups such as this on the July 12 "Day of Action" to demonstrate what could happen if the current open internet rules were reversed.
Your favorite apps – Spotify, YouTube, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc. – could be blocked in this way too.
Unless you pay the ISP more money
One of the big concerns is that ISPs could then leverage this blocking to squeeze more money out of you.
Here's an example image that circulates on Reddit, showing what that might look like:
And here's what's happening to internet plans in Portugal – which doesn't have net neutrality protections in place.
ISPs are charging people more just to get access to Gmail or Pinterest – and those are in different plans.
Your favorites sites could load like 56k
Another piece of this is throttling – intentionally allowing some sites to load faster for a fee.
Or on the flip side, forcing other sites that won't pay the fee to load slower. Leading to things like this:
Or maybe your Netflix doesn't ever go above 480p standard definition, so all your favorite shows and movies look fuzzy.
Why it could be this way
Here's a very basic explanation of how you're able to access the internet right now – and how deleting the open internet protections inserts another layer of possible moneymaking.
Your home doesn't connect directly to the internet. It has to go through an ISP (usually a for-profit company).
Some examples of real-life consequences
The current net neutrality rules were put in place in 2015.
The ACLU – which is firmly pro-open internet – has some real examples of companies interfering in customers' experiences by blocking or throttling sites and services.