net neutrality

a.k.a. network neutrality, NN

Network neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be able to access any Web content they choose and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or limitations imposed by their Internet service provider (ISP). In other words, this term refers to a network as not favoring one application or certain Web content over another, but rather should provide services in a nondiscriminatory, unrestricted "neutral" fashion.

The debate over net neutrality has waxed and waned in the nation's capital for years. As Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, has stated, "The Internet was designed with no gatekeepers over new content or services. A lightweight but enforceable neutrality rule is needed to ensure that the Internet continues to thrive."

There are several somewhat related meanings in which "net neutrality" are associated with, including:

(1) No different quality grades ("fast lanes") for Internet service.

(2) No price discrimination among Internet providers.

(3) No monopoly price charged to content and applications providers.

(4) Nothing charged to the providers for transmitting their content.

(5) No selectivity by the carriers over content they transmit.

(6) No blocking of the access of users to some websites.

Historical perspective: Net neutrality gained prominence in 2007 after critics accused Comcast of preventing customers from sharing files through BitTorrent and similar sites, resulting in an FCC investigation into Comcast's network management practices. The company said it managed traffic to preserve bandwidth for less intensive users. It vowed to improve its network management practices and lead efforts to set industry standards. Proponents of network neutrality reacted to Comcast's proposals with outrage. They want policymakers to pass laws requiring cable and telecommunications companies to manage traffic in a non-discriminatory way. Like many who support stronger network neutrality measures, proponents fear that ISPs could block information in favor of its own content.

On February 26, 2015, the FCC ruled in favor of net neutrality under the Obama administration by reclassifying broadband as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. But by December 8, 2017 under the Trump administration, the FCC repealed the net neutrality rules and rolled back the regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content.

On March 6, 2018, Washington became the first state to pass a law that protects net neutrality. The bill, signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, prohibits Internet Service Providers from blocking apps or services, or from slowing down connection speeds. It also prohibits ISPs from offering fast lanes for certain sites. Although Oregon was technically the first state to pass a net neutrality bill, Washington has the first law on its books “where violations by all ISPs are enforceable” under the state’s Consumer Protection Act. Since the Federal Communication Commission added language specifically prohibiting states from crafting their own net neutrality laws, Washington’s law is likely to face legal challenges.

NetLingo Classification: Technical Terms

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