What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the concept that Internet Service Providers, such as Comcast, AT&T, and CenturyLink, and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. Net Neutrality proponents posit that everyone should be charged the same amount for the same services and usage.  

In 2003, Columbia Law Professor, Tim Wu, coined the term Net Neutrality in a law review article. The debate gained steam in 2012 after AT&T decided to block FaceTime on its mobile networks for subscribers unless they agree to a share plan. In the fall of 2013, Verizon admitted that the FCC’s Open Internet rules were the only thing preventing them from charging websites from reaching Verizon subscribers. In 2014, a bill was introduced to congress to ban Internet fast lanes.

On September 10, 2014, pro-Net Neutrality individuals and organizations participated in Internet Slowdown Day in an effort to raise awareness about the FCC’s proposed open internet rules. Since then, Net Neutrality has continued to garner much public support.

Finally, on June 14, 2016 the D.C. Circuit affirmed the Open Internet Order, protecting Net Neutrality for consumers using both wired and wireless connections to access the Internet. The law affirms that no ISP should be able to block or throttle your connection to control your online experience.


Net Neutrality Timeline

Moving forward, the FCC’s new Net Neutrality rules have reclassified high-speed broadband services as a public utility, similar to electricity, gas, and water supply along with limiting providers and options those providers can offer.

The goal is to ensure an open and equal Internet for all content. This ruling is significant because otherwise ISPs would maintain control over the delivery rates and would be able to continue providing services to users at different rates without regulation.