Net neutrality

Network neutrality, most commonly called net neutrality, is the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all Internet communications equally, and not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, platform, application, type of equipment, source address, destination address, or method of communication.[4][5]

Portuguese Internet service provider MEO offers smartphone contracts with monthly data limits, and sells additional monthly packages for particular data services.[1] Critics of the EU's net neutrality rules say they are broken with loopholes that allow data for different services to be sold under zero rating exceptions to data limits.[2] Consumer advocates of net neutrality have cited this pricing model as an illustration of Internet access with weak net neutrality protection.[3]

With net neutrality, ISPs may not intentionally block, slow down, or charge money for specific online content. Without net neutrality, ISPs may prioritize certain types of traffic, meter others, or potentially block traffic from specific services, while charging consumers for various tiers of service.

The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003, as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier, which was used to describe the role of telephone systems.[6][7][8][9] Net neutrality regulations may be referred to as "common carrier" regulations.[10] Net neutrality does not block all abilities that Internet service providers have to impact their customers' services. Opt-in/opt-out services exist on the end user side, and filtering can be done on a local basis, as in the filtering of sensitive material for minors.[11]

Net neutrality means that no one with more money receives special treatment. Without net neutrality, ISPs can slow down the websites or services of small businesses that can't afford to pay for the so-called fast lanes.

Research suggests that a combination of policy instruments will help realize the range of valued political and economic objectives central to the network neutrality debate.[12] Combined with strong public opinion, this has led some governments to regulate broadband Internet services as a public utility, similar to the way electricity, gas, and the water supply are regulated, along with limiting providers and regulating the options those providers can offer.[13]

Proponents of net neutrality, which include computer science experts, consumer advocates, human rights organizations, and Internet content providers, assert that net neutrality helps to provide freedom of information exchange, promotes competition and innovation for Internet services, and upholds standardization of Internet data transmission which was essential for its growth. Opponents of net neutrality, which include ISPs, computer hardware manufacturers, economists, technologists and telecom equipment manufacturers, argue that net neutrality requirements would reduce their incentive to build out the Internet, reduces competition in the marketplace, and may raise their operating costs which they would have to pass along to their users.

Net neutrality is administered on a national or regional basis, though much of the world's focus has been on the conflict over net neutrality in the United States. Net neutrality in the US has been a topic since the early 1990s, as they were one of the world leaders in online service providing. In 2019, the Save the Internet Act to "guarantee broadband internet users equal access to online content" was passed by the United States House of Representatives[14] but not by the US Senate. However, they face the same problems as the rest of the world. Finding an appropriate solution by creating more regulation for Internet service providers has been a major work in progress. Net neutrality rules were repealed in the US in 2017 during the Trump administration and subsequent appeals have upheld the ruling.[15]


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