Looking Closer at Net Neutrality

Back in 2010, the FCC established some basic net neutrality rules in their 2010 Open Internet Order. These rules prevented internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or discriminating against certain online services. The Order was enacted in order to stop large telecommunications companies such as Verizon and Comcast from stifling competition and innovation online.

The FCC set out that their net neutrality rules were intended to: “… preserve the Internet as an open platform enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, end-user control, competition, and the freedom to innovate without permission.”

Open Internet/Net Neutrality

According to the FCC, an open internet represents one in which consumers are able to make their own choices about what applications and services to use, and where consumers are free to decide what content they want to access, create, or share with others. The principles of an open internet are as follows:

  • Ensure the internet is a platform for innovation and job creation
  • Empower consumers and entrepreneurs
  • Promote free expression
  • Promote competition
  • Increase certainty in the marketplace by providing greater predictability for all stakeholders regarding relevant federal policy
  • Spur investment, both at the “edge,” and in the core of broadband networks

Net neutrality is simply another term for referring to open internet principles.

The FCC is also developing a proposal for rules for the open internet that would establish that behavior harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the internet will not be permitted. These rules would ensure:

  1. Transparency – All ISPs must transparently disclose to their subscribers and users all relevant information as to the policies that govern their network.
  2. No blocking – No legal content may be blocked.
  3. No unreasonable discrimination – ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.

What does this mean?

Without net neutrality rules in place, ISPs can prevent users from visiting certain websites, provide slower speeds for services such as Netflix and Hulu, or redirect users from one website to a competing website. Net neutrality rules prevent this by requiring ISPs to connect users to all lawful content on the internet equally, without preferential treatment to certain sites or services.

If net neutrality were to be overturned, companies would be able to buy priority access to ISP customers. Tech giants, such as Google or Facebook, could pay ISPs to provide faster, more reliable access to their websites than to potential competitors. This could deter innovative start-up services unable to purchase priority access from ISPs. Furthermore, if ISPs can charge online services to connect to consumers, consumers would ultimately bear these additional costs, whether on their monthly bill or in the increased cost of a product.


This article is an introduction into net neutrality rules, which govern how internet service provides manage their networks.

CIPP Exam Preparation

In preparation for the Certified Information Privacy Professional/Information Technology (CIPP/IT) a privacy professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:

  • Implementing technologies with privacy impacts (VI.)

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