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The FCC's New Take on Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know

One of the most contentious tech policy issues of the Obama administration is back. 

Data cables. 
Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Updated on

The Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission on Thursday officially began the process of unraveling the Open Internet rules passed by the commission under Barack Obama. It voted 2 to 1 to give preliminary approval to a new approach on internet regulation. The FCC’s rules on net neutrality dominated tech policy circles in 2014 and 2015, and 2017 is shaping up to be similar. Here are answers to your basic questions: 

Wait, remind me again, what is net neutrality? The basic idea is that internet service providers shouldn’t be allowed to treat traffic on their networks differently based on the source or type of content. Supporters of net neutrality think that there should be rules to keep, for instance, AT&T from providing preferential treatment to streaming video from DirecTV, which it owns, giving itself an advantage while harming other businesses and their customers. Another example of a violation would be if Verizon slowed down Netflix traffic until the company paid for speedier service.