Net Neutrality has been all over the news lately and I’ve been fielding a couple of questions related to it. At Setfive, we think it’s a critically important issue, both to startups and the technology infrastructure of the United States as a whole. Because of that, we decided to pull together an overview, some history, and key outcomes surrounding the Net Neutrality debate. As always, questions or comments welcome!
What is Net Neutrality?
First coined by Columbia Law professor Tim Wu, network neutrality, or net neutrality for short, states that internet service providers (such as Verizon and Comcast) and governments should provide you with access to content and data regardless of where it came from equally. Internet service providers (ISPs) are not allowed to discriminate and slow speeds for one company in favor of its competitor.
Essentially, net neutrality maintains a free, open, and fair internet.
The Lead Up To January 14, 2014
The Open Internet Rules established:
In response to these rules, Verizon brought the FCC to court in 2013 on the charge that the agency had no authority to use the Open Internet rules to regulate ISPs.
Fast forward to January 14, 2014
What does this ruling mean?
It eliminated the only existing rules protecting net neutrality. As a result, ISPs can now:
What’s the president’s stance on all this?
He’s pro net neutrality and has urged the FCC to establish strong rules that would protect it. However since the FCC is an independent government agency, Obama has no direct influence. Additionally, in a bitterly divided congress some hardline Republicans are taking an anti-Net Neutrality stance to pander to their base. See The Oatmeal on Ted Cruz.
The FCC does have the power to reclassify ISPs as telecommunication service providers and thus subject them to the Open Internet Rules. What it decided to do instead is to create a new net neutrality framework that would hold up in court while at the same time satisfy both sides.
Right now, everyone is in a holding pattern waiting for the FCC to make a final announcement.
Posted In: General
Tags: Net Neutrality