What the FCC rollback of 'net neutrality' means to you

Now that the federal government has rolled back the internet protections it put in place two years ago, the big question is: What does the repeal of 'net neutrality' rules mean to you?

In the short term, the answer is simple: Not much. 

But over time, your ability to watch what you want to watch online and to use the apps that you prefer could start to change.

After a meeting voting to end net neutrality, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai answers a question from a reporter, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

After a meeting voting to end net neutrality, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai answers a question from a reporter, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY? 

Net neutrality is the basic principle that all internet traffic should be be treated equally.

Whether you're trying to buy a necklace on Etsy, stream a series on , or upload a photo to Facebook, your internet service provider has to load all of those websites equally quickly.

If net neutrality is lost, internet service providers (ISPs) like AT&T and Verizon could create special 'fast lanes' for content providers willing to pay more.

Customers of streaming services like could see their subscription fees rise if the company chooses to pay more.

The US communications regulator earlier this year voted to remove a 2015 rule that prevented this 'throttling' of data by ISPs. 

Your mobile carrier, for instance, might start offering you terrific deals for signing up to its own video service, just as your YouTube app starts suffering unexpected connection errors. 

Or you could wake one day to learn that your broadband provider is having a tiff with Amazon, and has slowed down its shopping site in order to extract business concessions.

All of which would be perfectly legal under the new deregulatory regime approved Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission, so long as the companies post their policies online. 

Broadband providers insist they won't do anything that harms the 'internet experience' for consumers.

WHAT HAPPENED

On Thursday, the FCC repealed Obama-era 'net neutrality' rules, junking the longtime principle that all web traffic must be treated equally. 

The move represents a radical departure from more than a decade of federal oversight.

The big telecommunications companies had lobbied hard to overturn the rules, contending they are heavy-handed and discourage investment in broadband networks.

Lindsay Chestnut of Baltimore holds a sign that reads 'I like My Internet Like I Like my Country Free & Open' as she protests near the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in Washington

Lindsay Chestnut of Baltimore holds a sign that reads 'I like My Internet Like I Like my Country Free & Open' as she protests near the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in Washington

'What is the FCC doing today?' asked FCC chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican. 'Quite simply, we are restoring the light-touch framework that has governed the internet for most of its existence.'

Under the new rules approved Thursday, companies like Comcast,

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