FCC votes on party lines to review net neutrality rules

Commissioners voted to review Net Neutrality on Thursday and as KHOU 11 reporter Brandi Smith explains, the vote could affect your internet usage.

The Federal Communications Commission is taking a stand against net neutrality. On Thursday, commissioners voted 2-to-1 to review and likely replace the Open Internet order passed in 2015.

What is net neutrality?

When you hop on the Internet, you expect to be able to access every site in the same way. Net neutrality is what ensures you can surf the sites you want freely, openly and fairly. It's essentially a green light that prevents Comcast, AT&T or any other provider from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any sites you want to use.

What's changed?

When the FCC approved the Open Internet order in 2015, it preserved that. But on Thursday in a 2-to-1 vote, commissioners decided to review that rule. They say their goal is to loosen up regulations of the Internet industry with the goal of encouraging telecom companies to invest more in development and jobs.

Comcast, Charter Communications and other providers pledged to keep data flowing freely, but it's worth noting Comcast, Verizon and AT&T all opposed the 2015 rule. Facebook and Google, on the other hand, supported it.

Why do you care?

Here's an extreme example: say an ISP developed its own search engine and wanted you to use that instead. It could slow down your service when you tried to log in to Google instead, make you watch an ad before Google pops up or block your access to Google all together.

A much more likely example: A site like Netflix will have to pay your Internet provider more to make sure your stream is smooth. Inevitably, that cost will be passed on to you.

What now?

Yesterday's vote opens up a three-month public comment period. The FCC isn't expected to make any other moves on this issue until August.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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