Net all the websites and apps theyNet all the websites and apps they

Net neutrality: Although the term has been around for more than 14 years, the mention of it still triggers a debate
filled with jargon and strong emotions. And though the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finally passed
working, court-approved net neutrality rules in 2015, the issue is back in the headlines because the new FCC Chair,
Ajit Pai, plans to repeal them.
Understanding the Internet
Net neutrality, and the rules that support it, is pretty straightforward. Think about how the internet has worked
for the last 20 or so years. The millions upon millions of websites, applications, and services that consumers enjoy
are like traffic driving down a road—a massive, infinite, global amount of traffic delivering packets of data.
Whether a consumer is reading an email, streaming music, checking headlines, or sharing photos, it’s just a
transmission of bytes being sent and received that makes it possible.
In the two decades that we’ve been doing all of this digital sharing, consumers have become accustomed to a free
and open internet. Whether using the internet at home or on a mobile device, we can shop at any website we
want, find the news we like to read, and hook up the devices we prefer to use. All of the packets of information
traveling back and forth across the internet have been treated the same way. Consumers expect that legal sites or
apps won’t be blocked or slowed down (a practice known as “throttling”). Consumers expect that the fee they pay
their internet service provider (ISP) every month means they can access all the websites and apps they want to
visit and use, not just some chosen by the ISP.
What Net Neutrality Rules Do
Enshrining these basic principles into a rule that preserves a free and open internet has been the goal of the
FCC, under both Republican and Democratic chairmen, for more than a decade. The FCC’s 2015 Open Internet
Order, which was upheld by a federal appeals court in 2016, contains the net neutrality rules consumers enjoy
today. Here’s what it does:
• NO BLOCKING. ISPs are not allowed to block access to any legal website, app, service or the ability to
connect a non-harmful device to the internet.
• NO THROTTLING. ISPs cannot slow down or degrade the quality of access to any legal website, app,
service, or connected device.
• NO PAID PRIORITIZATION. ISPs cannot favor or speed up traffic to a website, app, service, or connected
device in exchange for a fee (paid either by the consumer or the website). When people talk about
internet “fast lanes” and paying for them, this is what they’re talking about.
• TRANSPARENCY. ISPs are required to disclose fees, broadband speeds, promotional rates, data caps and
allowances, network management practices, and related information to consumers.
• INTERNET CONDUCT RULE. In a nutshell, this rule is applied by the FCC on a case-by-case basis to ensure
that ISPs cannot “unreasonably interfere with or unreasonably disadvantage” consumers’ access to legal
online content or websites’ ability to create it.
Unfortunately, in the past, ISPs have been caught doing the very things these rules now prohibit. For example,
Comcast blocked access to file-sharing applications in 2005. AT&T is currently in litigation for allegedly throttling
the speed of some of its wireless customers by as much as 90 percent. And Verizon stated