For years, the power of the Internet has essentially been in the hands of the providers.
However, the FCC has attempted to protect users from abuse of that power. Last week, it implemented "net neutrality" rules that will essentially govern Internet service providers and legally bind them to treat all content "neutrally" — or to basically treat everything fairly.
On the surface, it's common for additional laws to be met with skepticism and criticism, but in this case, the laws are warranted. While the laws may or may not change anything, they prevent injustice from occurring.
What exactly does all of this mean?
In layman's terms, an ISP cannot charge a customer additional money to get better Internet on a certain service. An ISP cannot charge a college student an additional fee to legally stream content because it benefits a competitor of the ISP.
As USA Today tech reporter Mike Snider put it, "In theory, nothing should change. There would just be these laws out there that will protect you down the road."
While that doesn't mean we will all get the same speeds — ISP customers can essentially pay more for faster Internet — the speeds we pay for will now not be able to be discriminated based on the sites we access.
This is good news. As consumers, we don't always get the whole picture. We don't necessarily understand the inner workings of everything we pay for. In the case of the all-powerful Internet, that is especially the case. We all use it, but how many of us truly understand it?
At its core, "net neutrality" is about consumer protection. We, as consumers, try to make the educated decision on the Internet speed we pay for based on usage and requirements. Therefore, we have the right to get what we pay for.
Major companies such as Verizon have said the FCC has implemented "1930s rules on the Internet." What?
I'm sorry you can't pick and choose what you allow me to view online. I'm sorry you can't speed up Internet to benefit yourself. This is bringing Americans freedom of the marketplace — you know, a tenant this country was built off?
Much of what happens online is "fair game" and "hard to enforce legally," however, at least now we have protection to get what we pay for.
Ryan Gillespie is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @rgillespiecff or email him at RyanG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.