What is net neutrality? If net neutrality is enforced, that means that every internet service provider in the country must allow equal access to all internet content. If net neutrality is not enforced, that means service providers can charge different prices to access certain apps and websites.
Whether you have never heard of net neutrality before, or you have heard of it but the complexity of the topic stumps you to a certain degree, there is a lot of information to be uncovered by a discussion on the subject. Net neutrality can be quite a confusing concept to grasp.
There are so many layers to it, and when you look into the topic of net neutrality, you’ll find that the language used by professionals who speak about net neutrality is not always digestible. Let’s break the concept down into pieces of information that make more sense, and then we’ll tell you more about countries around the world that do not have net neutrality.
Net neutrality has everything to do with the internet and its level of accessibility of people all around the world. If the country in which you reside does have net neutrality in tact, then you are free to search the world wide web without any one company controlling the speed at which your internet runs or the websites you are allowed to visit at any given time.
See, net neutrality keeps internet providers in check, if you will. Without net neutrality, there would be a sort of monopoly over the internet, and rather than having the freedom to roar just about any and every inch of the online world, companies could start to dictate where you are allowed to go.
And this is exactly the reality that people in countries void of net neutrality experience on a daily basis. Not only is internet usage restricted and controlled in some way or another, but the way people pay for the internet in countries without net neutrality is really confusing, especially for people who are so used to paying an overarching monthly or annual internet fee that covers the costs of the internet in general. Instead, places that are not covered by net neutrality have their internet services broken up into categories.
It may sound weird, but net neutrality keeps all aspects of the internet set to the same price. So, let’s say you use Netflix for watching movies and TV shows, and you use Spotify to stream music, but you also have a few social media accounts that you post on every so often. Now, with net neutrality in place, you probably have a contract with an internet company where you adhere to a monthly payment. In turn, you are provided with steady, reliable, and constant internet connection, no matter what you’re using the internet for.
Without net neutrality. your internet service provider, or ISP, can change the speed at which certain sites load, whether websites are allowed to fully load at all, and various other acts of censoring your internet access. This would feed into the possibility of bribery being conducted between businesses and internet service providers. It would turn into a scenario a bit like the higher a business pays an ISP, the more readily the internet provider will favor the business and permit their web content to be more accessible to online users.
The ISP could also very easily charge you different amounts of money depending on the applications that you are using while connected to the internet. Let’s go back to the hypothetical assumption that Netflix, Spotify, Instagram, and Twitter are your everyday internet-based apps. In countries that do not have net neutrality, the various internet providers will group applications into categories like social media, video streaming, and online music.
In order to use Spotify, you would have to pay for a subscription, if you will, to the category of online music. The same goes for a video streaming subscription if you want to use Netflix, as well as the social media monthly payment plan in order to download and interact with apps that are considered social media platforms. Each category has its own price attached to it, and although the pricing is not necessarily absurd or super expensive, the point is that the internet providers are in full control of how you use the internet.
This sounds like a futuristic possibility that we may one day face years down the road, particularly because it sounds so drastic and impossible. However, there are some countries on Earth that do not have net neutrality, and therefore, the people who live in these areas deal with this sort of internet payment breakdown because they have to. Net neutrality keeps entities from controlling not only what you can view but also how and when you can view it.
The countries that do not have net neutrality, whether it is a semi-recent change or the way the internet has been for centuries, include…
- The Netherlands
- South Korea
- The United States
Portugal eradicated net neutrality for the first time in March of 2015. There was an incident that caused the Portuguese government to demand that all internet service providers block access to the Pirate Bay, which was a source of certain entertainment software that Portugal's officials did not want circulating.
Canada does not have full net neutrality in relation to criminal cases that involve juveniles, and some cases of criminal behavior are intentionally hidden from the public eye, including by way of online viewing, when the subject matter is deemed as inappropriate for the general population to be aware of. There are blocks on websites and online content that has anything to do with pedophelia as well.
France has a reasonable restriction on any explicit content online that involves children or minors. Material that can be viewed and considered as terrorist propaganda is also halted by internet service providers.
Russia does not allow its citizens or residents to freely roam the internet. The Russian government is very protective over how those who live in Russia view the country as well as the government.
Remaining Countries that Do Not Have Net Neutrality
As you can tell, net neutrality can either be completely withdrawn from a country, or the control over the internet can be partially monitored, with most online websites remaining accessible to the general population. It all depends on the country as well as the government’s opinion regarding online material.