Net neutrality is defined as "the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites."
This is a good thing. It means that ISPs like Comcast and Spectrum can't pick winners and they can't charge you a different rate for using Twitter than they charge for using Facebook. There are no anti-competitive "fast lanes."
It also has nothing to do with the Title II regulations that the FCC has recently voted to repeal. That statement will probably surprise people.
Despite what the "news" might tell you, the FCC is not going to repeal "net neutrality." It is going to undo the decision to regulate Internet service providers the same way we regulate telephone and electric companies - as Title II common carriers.
Title II regulation and net neutrality are not the same thing. If you weren't aware of that, you probably don't have an opinion on this topic. The U.S. had a "neutral net" before Title II was applied and will continue to have one even after it is repealed.
Title II says Internet service providers are all anti-competitive monopolists, from Comcast down to Main Street Broadband - who has four customers in Cannon Falls, MN. The Telecommunications Act of 1934 was written for the Ma Bell telephone monopoly (Title II starts on page 35).
Title II classification is a bad idea. It prevents any competition in the Internet service market by making it too expensive to build infrastructure. Start-up ISPs that would otherwise give Spectrum some competition struggle to lay cables and get pole-attachment rights.
A survey by The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association found that:
80 percent of our members had incurred additional expenses, had delayed or reduced services, and had allocated significant financial and human resources to comply with the current rules
Turns out regulating ISPs like monopolies makes them function as monopolies. Who could have guessed?
And we hate that Spectrum and Comcast are monopolies, don't we?
So why then, the uproar about "net neutrality"?
Because actual policy (Title II regulation) has been confused with something that it sounds like you can't oppose (free and open Internet). Brought to you by the same folks who sold us the "Patriot" Act. People in this day and age are too busy to notice the sleight of hand.
Fear is the most powerful motivator. Nuance doesn't make for catchy headlines, and outrage is more addictive than analysis.
It's easier to hit the retweet button on the scary-looking image from Portugal than to watch a 2 minute video to find out what is actually going on.
It's easier to click the upvote button on an astroturfed reddit post than to read a fact sheet.
It's easier to attack imaginary strawmen than to find out what the other person actually has to say.
Everyone supports a free and open Internet. You don't have to be scared. The Internet will be just fine.
If you still want to be scared, or if you're interested in using that energy constructively, how about contacting your representatives about the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots?
If you think that sounds funny (it kinda does), I suggest you give this (fictional) video a watch: