May 06, 2014

What is net neutrality?

There is a lot of talk about the FCC and net neutrality lately, but they skip over what it really is. Precisely what do they mean by the term net neutrality?

Net neutrality

"Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers 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, and modes of communication. The term was coined by Columbia media law professor Tim Wu in 2003 as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier.[1][2][3][4]

Proponents often see net neutrality as an important component of an open internet, where policies such as equal treatment of data and open web standards allow those on the internet to easily communicate and conduct business without interference from a third party.[5] A "closed internet" refers to the opposite situation, in which established corporations or governments favor certain uses. A closed internet may have restricted access to necessary web standards, artificially degrade some services, or explicitly filter out content."

It’s a term created by Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor. It basically means that all traffic through the internet “pipes” gets treated the same, without preferential or negative interference by the ISPs. If you have 3 minutes to spare, there is a brilliant summary of the issue by CGP Grey on YouTube.

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