Whose Internet Is It, Anyway?

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from TIME Magazine,

A guide to the net neutrality word wars.

Everyone in Washington seems to be promising American web users an “open Internet” lately. On Nov. 10, after President Barack Obama called for the strictest tools available to prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from creating “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” for different content, Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler didn’t miss a beat. “Like the President, I believe that the Internet must remain an open platform,” he wrote in a statement.

The next day, Comcast, the nation’s biggest broadband provider, seemed to concur. “Surprise!” wrote Comcast executive David Cohen in a press release. “We agree with the President’s principles on Net neutrality.” Even Republican lawmakers, who were quick to slam Obama’s statement, praised the idea of an even playing field.

But the same words don’t always mean the same thing, especially when $500-an-hour lawyers are battling over the future of a multibillion-dollar industry. The fact is that Obama, Republicans, the FCC, Silicon Valley and cable providers are all preparing for a major showdown over the rules that dictate how the Internet is delivered to your home. The stakes are high, and the rhetoric can be confusing. So let’s try to sort through the mess.

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