Just when it seemed the critical principle of net neutrality would be preserved in two of the largest and most influential internet populations – the United States and theEuropean Union – that reassuring prospect for businesses and consumers has been thrown into doubt in both jurisdictions.
Net neutrality is the concept that all traffic on the net should be treated equally by internet infrastructure providers, regardless of how much bandwidth it requires or how large or small the entity generating the traffic.
Thus, YouTube is not charged more for the considerably greater bandwidth it demands daily to serve up videos than, say, a small start-up in Galway.
This might initially seem an odd approach. After all, Google-owned YouTube is a major user of web bandwidth, along with streaming service Netflix. Between the two, they hog half of the world’s total bandwidth. Surely they should pay more for it?
Well, no. As World Wide Web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee has argued, alongside many others, the infrastructure itself should be neutral. There should not be a fast lane and a slow lane for delivery of services to internet users, or you introduce fast and slow lanes for innovation.