Back in February, the FCC was making a lot of noise about Net neutrality and the open Internet. At the time, the FCC voted and approved some new legislation that reclassified Internet service as a telecommunications utility service, and along with it set out rules to structure the fair and open use of the Internet. As of today, this new legislation takes effect, but you might not notice any change, and those changes might only be in effect for a short time.
You shouldn't take my statement that "you might not notice any change" to mean this isn't a major evolution of the inner workings of the Internet. For years now, ISPs have had seemingly unchallenged control over the Internet and have abused this power to violate the privacy of users and take advantage of other services that use the Internet for financial gain.
The rules of the open Internet would bring this to an end, limiting to what extent ISPs can monitor and collect your Internet usage information, and making Internet fast-lanes and blocking of legal services illegal. From this view point, these new rules can almost be seen as the Internet's Bill of Rights.
However, some ISPs refuse to accept these changes and are actively opposing the FCC's legislation in court. The court denied the request of the ISPs to put these changes on hold while the FCC's decision is being contested.
Though it would be illegal for ISPs not to apply these rules to the Internet immediately, the only thing the FCC can do to enforce these changes is to engage in lengthy legal battles. These would eventually be settled, but the ISPs could effectively, then, postpone implementing these changes for years. This is not to mention the fact that the FCC's legislation could ultimately be retracted, and then the ISPs wouldn't need to change anything, and any changes they do make would have only been temporary.
Despite the uncertain future of the Internet, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has taken the court's decision to not stay the rules of the Open Internet as a positive. "This is a huge victory for Internet consumers and innovators! Starting Friday, there will be a referee on the field to keep the Internet fast, fair and open. Blocking, throttling, pay-for-priority fast lanes and other efforts to come between consumers and the Internet are now things of the past. The rules also give broadband providers the certainty and economic incentive to build fast and competitive broadband networks," said Wheeler.
If the FCC's open Internet rules are upheld, then the changes to the Internet will profoundly improve user safety and privacy, while also making the Internet more lucrative for businesses and Web services. Until the courts come to a conclusion, however, there is no telling if any of this will actually come to pass.