Net Neutrality Starts Today: What It Means For You

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The Internet is now officially neutral.

The Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules take effect today. These regulations for Internet traffic, detailed in a 400-page document adopted earlier this year, seek to keep the Internet open by giving the FCC more regulatory power over broadband Internet companies.

The FCC has a Web page devoted to the concept of open Internet, also known as net neutrality. On that page, it states:

The FCC’s Open Internet rules protect and maintain open, uninhibited access to legal online content without broadband Internet access providers being allowed to block, impair, or establish fast/slow lanes to lawful content.

For example, an Internet service provider cannot speed up or slow down access to a particular website, a practice known as bandwidth throttling.

The United States Telecom Association and others in the industry are suing the FCC over the regulations. On Thursday, however, an appeals court judge denied the broadband trade association’s request to stay, or suspend, the regulations while the legal battle continues, Reuters reports.

As a result, the Net neutrality rules took effect today.

Tom Wheeler, FCC chairman, described the court’s decision as “a huge victory for Internet consumers and innovators” in a statement:

“Starting Friday, there will be a referee on the field to keep the Internet fast, fair and open. Blocking, throttling, pay-for-priority fast lanes and other efforts to come between consumers and the Internet are now things of the past.”

However, the court’s decision Thursday also put the lawsuit on an expedited path, Reuters reports.

Walter B. McCormick Jr., US Telecom president and chief executive, said in a statement that the court’s decision to fast-track the trade group’s lawsuit “shows the gravity of the issues at stake, and will facilitate a quicker path to determining the proper legal treatment for regulating broadband Internet access service.”

McCormick also said the association “continues to support” three key net neutrality rules: those prohibiting blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. The group believes the industry “should be lightly regulated,” he said.

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