The Federal Communications Commission's vote on "net neutrality" rules, scheduled for Thursday, holds major implications for the future of the internet — but it's not always clear who will foot the bill.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says he intends to repeal the rules that keep internet service providers from treating online content unequally. The regulations prohibit ISPs, such as Verizon, Comcast or AT&T, from slowing or censoring traffic to certain websites.
Advocates say net neutrality is a bulwark against ISPs abusing their power by forcing or prioritizing some online content against their competitors. Doing so would create an internet that handicaps smaller businesses and limits customers' freedom to access whatever websites they want.
"Net neutrality is actually what gives people choices," said Evan Greer, campaign director for the pro-net neutrality activist group Fight for the Future. "If we get rid of net neutrality protections, it allows the largest, most incumbent web companies to essentially pay protection money to ISPs to solidify their monopoly status and squash competition."