As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) absorbs the full impact of the Comcast court decision, the net neutrality debate is waging across the United States. What is net neutrality and why all the controversy surrounding the issue? In simplest terms, net neutrality is the tenet that all internet traffic should be treated equally. Net neutrality advocates believe that internet service providers should not be able to restrict certain types of internet traffic on their networks. In 2005, the FCC adopted a policy ascribing to the four principles of network neutrality.
This policy stated that consumers are entitled to:
- access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
- run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
- connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
- competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
In the Comcast case, the FCC ruled that Comcast violated these principles by restricting traffic requiring large amounts of bandwidth from passing through their network, so that other customers had adequate bandwidth to use. Comcast challenged the FCC's authority to regulate the internet, and the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed in a controversial decision against the FCC. As a result, the FCC intensified efforts to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service in order to assert its authority to regulate the use of the internet.