By SADIE PRICE-ELLIOTT, age 12

Without net neutrality, communities of color, alternative political groups and small businesses may have a harder time making their voices heard on the Web. PHOTO: Steve Rhodes
Without net neutrality, communities of color, alternative political groups and small businesses may have a harder time making their voices heard on the Web.
PHOTO: Steve Rhodes

The Internet is on the brink of change. In January 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in Verizon v. Federal Communications Commission that Internet providers like AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Verizon are allowed to slow down or block certain websites and content from users.

The ruling goes against the idea of net neutrality, one of the founding principles of the Internet. Net neutrality is the concept that everything on the Internet should be accessible to all.

With new rules in effect, the Internet will become more like cable television. Internet providers could charge sites money to run faster, so those sites that couldn’t pay would be stuck in the slow lane.

Without net neutrality, communities of color, alternative political groups and small businesses may have a harder time making their voices heard on the Web. Internet businesses that started out small, such as Twitter, YouTube and Google, may not have been discovered with such laws in place to slow them down. If a new website cannot pay the tolls, their content won’t be as easily discovered. New ideas, creative, political and otherwise, may have less exposure.

In an interview with PBS, Craig Aaron, CEO of Free Press, a non-profit media reform group explains, “I think [the court ruling] is potentially very harmful to innovation, because the beauty of net neutrality is that it created that even playing field, where anybody out there with a good idea, with a new product or service had just as good a chance as anybody else to find an audience on the Internet.”