Net neutrality (also known as “network neutrality”, “internet neutrality”, or “net equality”) is the principle that internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the internet equally, not discriminating or charging differently by user, content, site, platform, application, or mode of communication.*
In May 2014, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released a plan that would have allowed internet service provider companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to discriminate online and create pay-to-play fast lanes. Essentially, the big internet providers would have had the power to decide on what content moves the fastest on the web based on who pays the most.
Thanks to a huge public and political outcry, Chairman Wheeler shelved his original proposal. In February 2015, he announced that he would base new Net Neutrality rules giving internet users protections from any attempt to pay-to-play. The core net neutrality provisions are bans on blocking and throttling traffic. Broadband providers will not be allowed to block or degrade access to content, applications, websites, and services, or favor some traffic over others in exchange for payment.
Why Net Neutrality is Important for Businesses
Net Neutrality is crucial for small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs who rely on the open Internet to launch their businesses, create a market, advertise their products and services, and distribute products to customers. It ensures the web is a level playing field. It’s because of Net Neutrality that small businesses and entrepreneurs have been able to thrive on the internet. They use the internet to reach new customers and showcase their goods, applications and services. We need the open internet to foster job growth from small businesses, competition and innovation.
Why Net Neutrality is Important for Individuals
The open internet allows individuals and community organizations to tell their own stories. The open internet gives marginalized voices opportunities the opportunity to be heard. But without Net Neutrality, internet service providers could have blocked unpopular topics from reaching the masses. And without Net Neutrality, many small businesses would not be able to compete against larger corporations online.
“An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.” – Barack Obama: November 2014
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David Schuchman Princeton Technology Advisors
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