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Net neutrality

(also network neutrality, the Open Internet, internet freedom)

Net neutrality definition

Net neutrality refers to the principle that all internet connections should be treated equally, and internet service providers (ISPs) should allow users access to all content regardless of the source. Without net neutrality, internet service providers could regulate what users can and can’t see and discriminate against certain websites and services.

Benefits of net neutrality

  • Preserves free speech by prohibiting ISPs from blocking content.
  • Protects users by preventing ISPs from slowing down or speeding up download speeds or charging higher fees for certain online content.
  • Promotes competition between companies by providing a level playing field.

Real examples of net neutrality violations

  • AT&T. In 2012, AT&T announced it would disable FaceTime on its customers’ iPhones unless they opted for the more expensive text-and-voice plan.
  • Verizon. In 2012, the FCC caught Verizon Wireless blocking tethering applications on its users’ phones. Using these apps meant users could circumvent Verizon’s $20 tethering fee.
  • AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. Between 2011-2013, the three companies blocked Google Wallet — a mobile-payment system competing with Isis, a similar service AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint were developing.

Watch it explained: Net neutrality