One percent of the world's population controls almost 50 percent of the world's wealth, according to the poverty eradication nonprofit Oxfam [source: Neuman]. Advocates of net neutrality worry that loosening the rules for ISPs will result in a one-percent version of the Internet.
Here's how it could happen. In 2004, Internet traffic was more or less equally distributed across thousands of Web companies. Just 10 years later, half of all Internet traffic originated from only 30 companies [source: McMillan]. The top three websites by daily unique visitors and page views are Google, Facebook and YouTube [source: Alexa]. In terms of data, Netflix and YouTube hog more than half of all downstream traffic in North America [source: Daileda]. That means one out of every two bytes of data traveling across the Internet is streaming video from Netflix or YouTube.
If the distribution of Internet traffic is so out of whack now, imagine what it would be like if ISPs were given the green light to give further preferential treatment to the biggest players. Would there be any bandwidth left for the 99 percent — independent video producers, upstart social media sites, bloggers and podcasters?