Remind Me: What’s Net Neutrality Again?

By Patrick May
Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) So what is net neutrality? In a nutshell, it’s the sacred principle that all online traffic should be treated equally.

Mercury News

The big news on the Internet front Tuesday, of course, was that the FCC unveiled a plan to kill net neutrality.

Um, ok.

We’re here to refresh your memory on the burning question behind today’s big news: What exactly is net neutrality and why should you care?

In a nutshell, it’s the sacred principle that all online traffic should be treated equally. For example, rules passed under the Obama Administration ensured that there would be no “fast and slow lanes” on the Internet set up by service providers like AT&T and Verizon, thus allowing all users equal access to content.

But that was then, and this is Trump.

Killing net neutrality is a big win for cable and internet providers who could soon charge you more for how fast you want that Beavis and Butt-Head episode streamed on your iPhone. (Their argument being, hey, it costs us more to give it to you fast.) But the move has been roundly criticized by many Silicon Valley tech companies and advocates for online democracy.

So now that we know how people feel about the principle, let’s explore what exactly net neutrality means. Here’s how some experts are defining it:

From USA Today:
“Net neutrality, or open Internet, is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, without favoring some sources or blocking others.”

From Elaw.guide:
“Translated into non-lawyers language it means that your internet connection should treat all websites and services the same — e.g. you should not be charged more for accessing your email and less for Facebook and if you refuse to pay more to access your email, such access should not be throttled or blocked just based on such different treatment. Same applies to the company providing such service — they should not be charged more for the provision of access to their services and probably blocked or slowed down.”

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