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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Feb-18 > Life in the slow lane

Life in the slow lane

Axing net neutrality will make some sites sluggish, and speed up corporate capture

“Net neutrality” isn’t exactly a phrase to set the pulse racing, and perhaps that’s partly why so few Americans have paid attention to its threatened status. Now, it might be too late.

Some people assume net neutrality is difficult to understand— which to be fair much of tech is—but it’s a relatively simple concept. Essentially, it is the practice of equality of the internet. It means internet services providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the internet, and consumers, the same way. That is, ISPs (such as Comcast and Verizon in the United States and Virgin and BT in the UK) cannot serve certain content at a faster speed than other content; they cannot charge more for certain content; they cannot preference content; they cannot charge users more for using certain equipment or applications.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s February 2018 issue: John Naughton, James Ball, Yuan Ren, Hannah Jane Parkinson and Houman Barekat outline the ways in which our lives are controlled by big tech giants. Naughton argues that Facebook and Google have created a new “surveillance capitalism” in which they battle to grow user engagement of their products and monetise our lives for their own gain as they do so. The cover package also explores how “bots,” fake social media accounts, influenced the US presidential vote and the Brexit referendum as well as the effects of removing net neutrality in the US. Elsewhere in the issue: Samira Shackle asks what happens to ordinary civilians affected by Islamic State as they attempt to move back to their homes and rebuild their lives; Shahidha Bari asks whether we can continue to appreciate the work of actors, filmmakers and writers who have been disgraced; and Christine Ockrent profiles Michel Barnier.