Yay We Now Have Net Neutrality! What is it? (4 Minute Explanation)

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Big news today about the internet! It’s now going to stay pretty much the same.

Um, what?

Quick backstory. Since the internet became a thing, users have generally been able to access most websites without much interference from Internet Service Providers (or ISPs, like Verizon, AT&T, TimeWarner, etc). ISPs were providing their customers (you) with equal access and speed to all public, legal websites. They weren’t charging the websites anything, only the users. This was Net Neutrality, aka “the Open Internet,” and all was well and good in Internetlandia.

But then ISPs realized they could make more money by converting websites into customers too, by charging websites like Netflix for better service so that you could download movies faster.

What’s wrong with that?

Sounds like a win-win at first, but this means that ISPs could slow down or even block websites that refuse or can’t afford to pay the ISPs. So startups or even Sally Blogger could be forced to pay every ISP out there to make sure each ISP’s customers were able to access their websites. This could get really expensive, forcing many websites off the internet, and inhibiting innovation and free speech.

Oh no! So what now?

Well thankfully the Federal Communications Commission (government agency responsible for regulating telecommunications) voted today to enforce Net Neutrality and prevent ISPs from messing around with our internets. And peace and prosperity are restored for all time, or whatever.

Hooray!

Indeed. Now for some technical stuff. The FCC previously tried to enforce Net Neutrality in 2010, but in 2014 Verizon sued the FCC saying the FCC didn’t have legal authority to regulate the internet. Verizon won. But the court said the FCC could reclassify the internet as a “public utility” like telephones, or electricity, and then the FCC can regulate it. So that’s what the FCC did today.

Check out our quick guide to the internet laws you need to know.

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