A tweet that shows a supposed glimpse of a future without net neutrality is making the rounds online, but it isn't exactly true.
The claim is that Portugal doesn't have net neutrality rules and that the offerings of a local telecom MEO is a prime example of what could be without them.
An Internet Without Net Neutrality?
First and foremost, U.S. representative for California's 17th Congressional District Ro Khanna shared a screenshot of MEO's data plans on Twitter.
In Portugal, with no net neutrality, internet providers are starting to split the net into packages. pic.twitter.com/TlLYGezmv6
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) October 27, 2017
It shows that certain services under "Smart Net" are separated in categories such as Messaging, Social, Video, and Music, to name a few.
However, according to Snopes.com, these "apply only to mobile broadband usage and are add-ons to, not substitutes for, metered plans offering full internet access." In other words, they only give users the option to add some extra data to their plans depending on what they need.
That shouldn't come as much of a surprise, though. Contrary to the claim, Portugal has net neutrality rules since it's a member of the European Union, after all.
In Khanna's defense, it does bear semblance to how things would look like if internet service providers didn't have net neutrality laws to abide by.
Why Net Neutrality Is Important
Net neutrality regulations are what keep ISPs such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon in check, preventing them from not only taking unfair measures to stay ahead of their rivals in the industry but also throttling bandwidth speeds, putting content behind paywalls, and even blocking websites.
Essentially, without these rules, they call the shots on what users will see on the internet, or put differently, they can more or less censor certain information online.
One other possibility is that ISPs could charge users extra to access services such as Facebook, Spotify, Netflix, Reddit, and many others, thus increasing the overall cost for the consumers.
For the record, these are mere speculations, and ISPs have said they won't carry out practices like them.
The Bottom Line
To sum things up, the pro-net neutrality tweet that's going viral isn't necessarily true, and Portugal isn't an example of an internet without net neutrality.
The meeting to decide whether or not the regulations will stay intact is scheduled for Dec. 14, and the outcome is ultimately in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission officials Ajit Pai, Michael O'Rielly, Brendan Carr, Mignon Clyburn, and Jessica Rosenworcel.