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Net neutrality is one of those things that you don't even realize is necessary ... until it's gone. Unfortunately, Americans may be forced to experience the non-neutral World Wide Web in the very near future, unless we can all collectively #SaveTheInternet.
On April 23, less than 60 days from now, the final nails in the net neutrality coffin will be getting hammered down. But before that date comes, there are several challenges to the law's repeal that still must be overcome, though it may require a movement and more than a hashtag.
What's the Worst That Could Happen?
If you're wondering what net neutrality means to you personally or professionally, try to think back to the pre-broadband days of dial up. If you never had the pleasure of using dial up, just imagine waiting overnight to download an ebook or a modestly sized attachment, like a photo taken on a new iPhone.
Without net neutrality, an ISP can decide which websites get which speeds, and can charge both the websites and the users to increase the speed of access. This can breed some rather anti-competitive problems, where large corporations with significant capital can crush competitors by paying for ISPs to speed up all connections to their websites or online connected services. What's worse is that it could destroy the online marketing efforts of small businesses.
Challenging Internet Partiality
Currently, in addition to various lawsuits challenging the repeal, the Senate Democrats are leading a push to reverse the end of net neutrality via the Congressional Review Act. This act allows federal agency rules to be reversed within 60 days of their publication in the Federal Registrar via a simple majority vote in Congress. As of this writing, Senate Democrats claim to be one vote shy of the required majority. However, even if the Senate were to reverse via the CRA, the House, which has much larger partisan divide, would be a whole new, and much more difficult, battle.
Interestingly, in regards to the issue of partisan politics, net neutrality is being heralded as a potential rallying point that Congressional representative are going to be taken to task on come election time. If the internet breaks before the next election, the digital finger pointing may be slow, but it'll surely carry quite a bit of weight with consumers and therefore voters.