Net neutrality is the idea that all legal internet content should be treated equally by internet service providers. Comcast, Verizon and other web services, the thinking goes, are conduits to the World Wide Web and should abide by certain rules. They shouldn’t speed up, slow down or block certain sites, for instance. Net neutrality has become a rallying cry for web advocates looking to defend what they call the “free and open” internet. The theory is simple to lay out, but in practice it’s a more complex debate.
What’s happening now, and why is the debate so heated?
The Federal Communications Commission is reversing a 2015 order that imposed stringent rules on broadband. The FCC, which has new members appointed by President Trump, argues that paid prioritization (socalled fast lanes) and other practices could benefit consumers and shouldn’t be banned outright.
The new rules switch the web back to a lightly regulated information system and scrap the regulations that barred blocking or throttling legal content and banned fast lanes. What’s left is a transparency rule that forces web providers to disclose their business practices to customers if they block or throttle online data, or if they strike deals to speed up certain content via fast lanes.
Many consumers don’t think too highly of their cable or internet service provider. In a 2017 customer satisfaction survey, cable companie