First world governments around the world, including Canada have come down on the side of Net Neutrality (the idea that internet providers can not advance or block one website or stream). The notable exception to this is the United States under President Trump’s appointed FCC leader (and former Verizon executive) Ajit Pai, which has eliminated the Obama era rules protecting an open internet in December 2017.
The Republican / Ajit Pai / Trump argument is that the infrastructure is owned by the internet providers so they should be able to do what they want with it. The opposing view, held by most citizens is that the internet is like electricity or a phone; charge for the service but it is not the providers concern what is or is not connected.
In a world without Net Neutrality the sky does not fall, but it is well documented that creativity and business innovation are slowed. Put simply, large incumbent players (think Amazon, NetFlix, Twitter…) can easily pay internet providers to provide their fastest connections. Startup firms however cannot pay internet providers to deliver their content so they get a slower, second class, internet experience which necessarily results in consumers usually opting for the faster options:
In response to this, several notable Governments have said that while they cannot overrule the federal laws, they can refuse to buy services from a internet providers that are not Net Neutral.
Specifically New York and California are:
“…Defying the FCC… (with) orders requiring state officials to purchase Internet service only from broadband companies that abide by the principles of net neutrality…”
The large states pay many hundreds of millions of dollars per year for internet service to and from their thousands of state offices. These are contracts that no-one wants to loose.
In addition AT&T is the first of what is expected to be many Internet Provider companies that is publicly saying the want to see ground rules that MOSTLY protect Net Neutrality. Most observers, while supportive of any statement on Net Neutrality, are cynical of AT&T’s intentions: