Net neutrality is back: U.S. promises fast, safe and reliable internet for all

What ended up happening in the years after the rollback went into effect in 2018 was so discreet that most people unlikely noticed its effects, says Stanford Law professor Barbara van Schewick, who directs the school's Center for Internet and Society and supports net neutrality.

For the past six years, she says, "a lot of public scrutiny on the ISPs and then the attempts to bring back net neutrality in Congress basically kept the ISPs on their best behavior."

Still, there were changes. Some ISPs implemented zero-rating plans, the practice of excluding some apps from data charges, she notes, or were caught throttling — intentionally slowing down consumer internet speeds.

Absent heightened federal regulation, tough net neutrality rules that sprang up in several states, including California, Washington and Oregon, also have continued to keep internet service providers in check.