Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai. Photo Zach Gibson/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed Obama-era net neutrality rules that regulate internet providers and prohibit them from blocking and charging premiums for certain content. The repeal won’t go into effect until later in the year and at the moment, its consequences remain unclear. However, we’ve rounded up a few major ways in which many critics have predicted the repeal will likely affect Internet users.

Extra Charges

Internet service providers (ISPs) may begin to charge customers more for faster service—in effect, creating a “fast lane” and a “slow lane” for internet users. In addition, ISPs will likely charge certain content providers extra to reach customers. Some content providers, such as startups, may not be able to afford these fees, thereby reducing the access to content available online.

A protest in Washington against the repeal of net neutrality. Photo Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press.

Limitations on Artists & Their Work

Artsy reported on the ways in which in which the repeal of net neutrality could harm the future and past work of Internet artists. The article cites “Summer” (2013) by Olia Lialina as an example—the online work features a collection of images that link to a different artist’s website. If one of the linked websites is hosted on a non-prioritized platform, the original integrity of the work could be damaged.

Detrimental for Low-Income Individuals

Lower-income individuals are often in greater need of access to online information such as educational information and safety alerts regarding severe weather alerts (poorer areas are more vulnerable to weather hazards), than their wealthy counterparts. Without the means to pay for faster Internet service, low-income individuals will be deprived of equal access to critical online services. Additionally, prohibitive access and download fees could negatively affect students and employees in the sciences, especially those in poorer countries, whose work relies on the sharing and downloading of large amounts of data.

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