Net Neutrality Begins: Some Info For You

Recently a federal judge rejected cable and phone companies attempts to stop net neutrality. So what is net neutrality you might ask? It’s the principle that internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the internet equally and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, site, platform, application, type of equipment, or mode of communication.

An example of this would be Comcast intentionally slowing uploads from peer-to-peer file sharing applications. Other internet providers have implemented certain limits on file transfer protocol and online gaming trafic as well. While you could argue from an overall business and resource speed standpoint, it has been ruled by a federal judge to be discrimination and self serving for providers.

So beginning on June 12 the FCC will be able to assert extra authority over the Internet to establish net neutrality. This means Verizon can’t block Google Wallet on your smartphone, like it did in 2011. Your phone carrier can’t block tethering apps, which turn your phone into an Internet hotspot for your laptop or tablet. AT&T can’t block video chatting apps like FaceTime or Google Hangouts. And Comcast can’t slow down file-sharing websites, like it did to BitTorrent a few years ago.

Who supports net neutrality? AOL, Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, Vimeo and every other major Internet company are in favor of the FCC’s new rules. They create the content you read and watch online, and they don’t want to face discrimination by network owners who can threaten to charge higher fees or slow them down. Who is against it? AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and other Internet service providers don’t want additional rules. They believe the FCC’s existing rules are sufficient to support net neutrality.

So is net neutrality is here to stay? Not necessarily. A plethora of telecom companies, including AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, are suing the government to overturn the FCC’s new rules. All the D.C. circuit court did on June 11 was to reject the telecom companies’ attempt to stay the net neutrality rules. Essentially, the federal judge just said, “I’m not making a ruling on whether or not the FCC’s new rules are legal — just that they’re not completely crazy.” A fuller hearing is scheduled for later this year, and a judge could still strike down the net neutrality rules.

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