What Is Net Neutrality and Why Does It Matter? - NBC10 Boston
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What Is Net Neutrality and Why Does It Matter?

The FCC has made sure cable and phone companies don't manipulate traffic, but is set to change those rules Thursday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Net Neutrality: What It Is and Why It Matters

    The FCC dismantled rules requiring internet service providers to ensure consumers have equal access to all online content.

    (Published Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017)

    "Net neutrality" regulations, designed to prevent internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter from favoring some sites and apps over others, are on the chopping block. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted on a proposal that not only undoes the Obama-era rules that have been in place since 2015, but forbids states to put anything similar in place.

    Here's a look at what the developments mean for consumers and companies.

    WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY?
    Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers treat all web traffic equally, and it's pretty much how the internet has worked since its creation. But regulators, consumer advocates and internet companies were concerned about what broadband companies could do with their power as the pathway to the internet — blocking or slowing down apps that rival their own services, for example.

    WHAT DID THE GOVERNMENT DO ABOUT IT?
    The FCC in 2015 approved rules, on a party-line vote, that made sure cable and phone companies don't manipulate traffic. With them in place, a provider such as Comcast can't charge Netflix for a faster path to its customers, or block it or slow it down.

    Protestors Rally for Net Neutrality in LA

    [NATL-LA] Protesters Rally in Favor of Keeping Net Neutrality Rules

    Protesters gathered in Westwood in a bid to save net neutrality, which is the idea that everyone should have equal access to the internet. The head of the Federal Communications Commission has indicated his plan to repeal net neutrality rules. Ted Chen reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017.

    (Published Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017)

    The net neutrality rules gave the FCC power to go after companies for business practices that weren't explicitly banned as well. For example, the Obama FCC said that "zero rating" practices by AT&T violated net neutrality. The telecom giant exempted its own video app from cellphone data caps, which would save some consumers money, and said video rivals could pay for the same treatment. Pai's FCC spiked the effort to go after AT&T, even before it began rolling out a plan to undo the net neutrality rules entirely.

    A federal appeals court upheld the rules in 2016 after broadband providers sued.

    WHAT TELCOS WANT
    Big telecom companies hate the stricter regulation that came with the net neutrality rules and have fought them fiercely in court. They say the regulations could have undermined investment in broadband and introduced uncertainty about what were acceptable business practices. There were concerns about potential price regulation, even though the FCC had said it won't set prices for consumer internet service.

    WHAT SILICON VALLEY WANTS
    Internet companies such as Google have strongly backed net neutrality, but many tech firms have been more muted in their activism this year. Netflix, which had been vocal in support of the rules in 2015, said in January that weaker net neutrality wouldn't hurt it because it's now too popular with users for broadband providers to interfere.

    WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
    Although the FCC's two Democrats opposed the proposal, the repeal prevailed with the three Republicans' voting in favor. The vote for net neutrality in 2015 was also along party lines, but Democrats dominated then.

    In the long run, net-neutrality advocates say undoing these rules makes it harder for the government to crack down on internet providers who act against consumer interests and will harm innovation. Those who criticize the rules say undoing them is good for investment in broadband networks.

    Weinstein Charged With Rape in Historic #MeToo Moment

    [NATL] Harvey Weinstein Charged With Rape, Leaves in Cuffs in Historic #MeToo Moment

    Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein surrendered to police in a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement early Friday morning. Weinstein was charged with rape, criminal sex act and other sex crimes connected to cases involving two separate women.

    (Published Friday, May 25, 2018)

    But advocates aren't sitting still. Some groups plan lawsuits to challenge the FCC's move, and Democrats — energized by public protests in support of net neutrality — think it might be a winning political issue for them in 2018 congressional elections.

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