PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If you download video, music or information online, you better know what Net Neutrality is.
“In the long run, we should absolutely be concerned,” says Point Park University Professor Paige Beal.
Effective Monday, the Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission has repealed net neutrality enacted during the Obama years to guarantee equal access to all internet content.
“Those people that control the flow of internet to your home and to your devices now have no reason to make it equal and open to everyone,” says Beal.
Beal once worked for Comcast, which with Verizon and AT&T are the major internet service providers in this area.
She says these ISPs are now free to deny you content, or throttle the speed you download, or even make you pay extra.
“We don’t know much of what’s going to happen in the wild, wild west of the internet right now,” notes Beal.
Some worry commercial interests will trump consumer protections.
“If an internet service provider wants you to watch Hulu, for example — and this is just a hypothetical – well, they can throttle the speed on Netflix or make it so Netflix isn’t available to you at all,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday.
Shapiro says the Federal Communications Commission did not have the legal authority to repeal net neutrality, and he and a number of other attorneys general have gone to court to prove just that.
There’s a hearing on his lawsuit in Washington next month to block the repeal of net neutrality.
But in the meantime, Shapiro says he’s contacted the internet providers in Pennsylvania.
“They’ve assured me that they would not take steps to do away with net neutrality. In effect, they would honor net neutrality,” says Shapiro.
That would give both federal and state lawmakers time to enact stronger consumer protections, if the court doesn’t act.