Major news outlets are portraying Net Neutrality Laws passed just yesterday as another way for the current administration to control our daily activities. Rather than providing mere rhetoric, below I've listed the specifics of the Net Neutrality rules. The regulations are based on three fundamental rules: transparency; no blocking; and no unreasonable discrimination.
Transparency: the transparency rule requires Internet service Providers (ISP) – fixed and wireless – to be more transparent about their activities. They need to be upfront about how they manage their networks, how well (or poorly) their networks perform, as well as details about their plan options and pricing. Most ISPs would argue that they already do this, but if you disagree, you could conceivably take it up with the FCC. In layman's terms, if your ISP slows down its network at peak times, imposes a usage cap, or charges roaming fees without explicitly stating them, you can report such incidents to the FCC directly. One example that comes to mind is mobile ISP such as AT&T. AT&T provides what it calls an "Unlimited Data Plan", but which actually caps usage at 5GB.
No Blocking: fixed providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, and non-harmful devices. Fixed providers also cannot charge providers of these services simply for delivering traffic to and from the network. Wireless providers, meanwhile, would be banned from blocking access to lawful Web sites or blocking applications that compete with their own voice or video telephony services. It does not apply to mobile broadband app stores. Comcast would not be able to block access to Netflix's streaming service, for example. Likewise AT&T cannot block Skype over its 3G network.
No unreasonable discrimination: broadband providers cannot unreasonably discriminate against lawful network traffic. Reasonable management of network traffic remains acceptable. Such management is defined as appropriate and tailored to achieving a legitimate network purpose. In other words, Comcast could slow down its entire network to handle an influx of users, but it could not cut off a specific, bandwidth-heavy service – like Xbox Live or Youtube. The FCC acknowledges that network management is necessary to prevent harmful content such as malware and child porn from making its way onto ISP networks.
The intention of this blog entry is to clear up the confusion and misinformation surrounding Net Neutrality and how it will effect us, the end consumers.