When Donald Trump takes office as the 45th president of the United States, he'll bring major changes to American foreign and domestic policy – as well as to the many government agencies that get their marching orders from the White House. For proponents and opponents of net neutrality, the Trump era will look very different than the past eight years have. Let's take a look at how.

What Will President Trump Mean for Net Neutrality?

So how does Donald Trump feel about net neutrality? Well, he's against it, but he doesn't really seem to know what the heck it is.

It's of course possible that Trump knows full well what net neutrality is, and just feels that this (false) description of it is the best way to get people on board with his anti-neutrality position.

Other than this anti-net neutrality tweet, Trump was pretty silent on the issue during the campaign. There's no position on net neutrality listed on his website, and he didn't present any type of “technology plan” like Clinton did.

But we know where the Republican Party stands on this issue (they're against it), and because when it comes to the FCC, political parties matter in a big way. In fact, Trump has already signaled that he's planning to appoint a very anti-neutrality FCC – which we'll cover in the next section

Get Ready for a Republican-Led FCC

We once wrote an entire article on how the FCC works

, but for our purposes here, all you need to know is this: the FCC is led by five commissioners, and only three of them can be from one political party. One commissioner is the chairman.

So, under Barack Obama, the FCC board had three Democrats (including Chairman Tom Wheeler) and two Republicans. Under a Republican administration, those figures will flip. We'll have three Republicans and two Democrats, and one of the three Republicans will be chairman (the early money seems to be on current commissioner Ajit Pai).

And, of course, Republicans are against net neutrality.

Trump hasn't always been known for sticking to Republican orthodoxy, but he looks like he'll be sticking to the party line here. He's already appointed two anti-neutrality figures to his “agency landing team.” Jeff Eisenach (formerly of Verizon) and Mark Jamison (a former Sprint lobbyist) will guide Trump as he makes his FCC appointments. Guess how they feel about net neutrality?

Issues to Watch for

So the FCC will be anti-net neutrality soon – at least far more so than they've been in the past eight years. What will that mean in practice?

One thing to watch is the AT&T-Time Warner merger. Trump has spoken out against the merger, and it may not get past regulators. If it does, though, separate net neutrality issues could arise. The FCC looks at net neutrality cases of this sort on a case-by-case basis, and this issue will certainly not come up until Trump's FCC is in place, so we'll get to see firsthand how loosely a Republican FCC would treat this type of issue.

The biggest issue for net neutrality advocates is the fate of the 2015 net neutrality rules. Those rules brought new neutrality protections to the internet, and they're a major accomplishment of the Obama-era FCC. Will they survive four years of a Republican-led FCC? Frankly, it seems doubtful. That the 2015 rules will take hits is a near certainty, and the only real question is whether any part of them will survive.

The same thing is true of net neutrality more generally: the question is less whether Republicans will seek to loosen net neutrality rules (they will) but by how much. It's not an all-or-nothing question, of course – the Republicans aren't anti-internet boogeymen, and regulatory agencies like the FCC will always want to regulate. The FCC doesn't want to allow unfair competition, no matter who is in charge. But Republicans also view excessive regulation as a bad thing, and regulation is required to keep the net neutral. There's a gray area here, and it's fair to worry just how long some net neutrality protections for consumers will last.