Side Note

This global net neutrality map sure makes the U.S. look great

Today, federal rules supporting net neutrality have expired. If you’re not familiar with net neutrality, it’s an internet ideal of free, equal access to any information accessible online where the companies that provide access (Verizon, Comcast) may not give better or faster access to the network to businesses using them (Netflix or Amazon, say) for any reason.

This map by the Global Net Neutrality Coalition shows how, as of today, the U.S. has joined the ranks of countries like China and Russia, which are notoriously guilty of internet censorship and limiting access to information online and also have no protections for net neutrality. The map also shows that almost all of South America and Europe have more protections than the U.S. does.

It’s important to note that certain states, like New York, are pursuing passing local protections for neutrality. But states whose Congresspeople are receiving money from telecom lobbyists may not have this same privilege.

Since 2015, it’s been explicitly illegal by federal law for an ISP to selectively throttle websites. Before then, companies like Comcast and AT&T took advantage of the less stringent legal framework in order to slow loading speeds to certain sites.

In a neutral ecosystem, internet service providers (ISPs)—including companies like Comcast and Verizon—shouldn’t be able to charge users to access some sites but not others, or slow down some sites but not others. Some service slow-down is necessary sometimes—if, say, a site is getting a lot of traffic. On a “neutral” web, these slow-downs would only be when absolutely necessary, and not to promote some sites and information over others. But in certain countries, including the U.S., this situation is no longer a right.