News broke today that ESPN is in negotiations with at least one major wireless carrier to pay to exempt ESPN content from data caps. This type of structure, where content providers who pay get better access to customers, is exactly what net neutrality is designed to prevent.
At its core, net neutrality is all about making sure that the company that connects you to the internet does not get to control what you do on the internet (if you ever forget that, just head on over to WhatIsNetNeutrality.org for a reminder). Imposing data caps on consumers and then allowing wealthy content holders to buy their way around them is a recipe for stagnation online.
What kinds of problems does this create? Fortunately, in its Open Internet Order, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provided us with a taste of what may happen (“edge providers” are anyone who creates content like ESPN, Facebook, local governments, and personal websites):
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