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The FCC passed its sweeping net neutrality order in 2015, and was again sued by telecommunications firms.The same federal court that shot down the FCC’s previous attempts at net neutrality rules finally sided with the agency, ruling that the 2015 rules were legal.In January 2017, President Trump appointed Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai as the agency's new chair.In April, he announced a plan to reverse the 2015 net neutrality order.In other words, these companies shouldn't be able to block you from accessing a service like Skype, or slow down Netflix or Hulu, in order to encourage you to keep your cable package or buy a different video-streaming service.The Federal Communications Commission spent years, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, trying to enforce net neutrality protections.A broadband provider might, for example, allow some companies to pay for priority treatment on broadband networks.The fear is that, over time, companies and organizations that either can't afford priority treatment, or simply aren't offered access to it, will fall by the wayside.
Later that year, the FCC floated a new proposal that net neutrality proponents worried would allow internet "fast lanes." The idea drew the ire of comedian John Oliver, who encouraged viewers of his show to file comments to express their support for net neutrality.The flood of comments crashed the FCC's website.The agency eventually received 21.9 million comments on the issue, shattering the record previously held by Janet Jackson's 2004 Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction."Then-FCC chair Wheeler eventually changed tack and decided to reclassify broadband providers as Title II carriers, though with fewer obligations than landline telephone operators.Most large broadband providers promised not to block or throttle content ahead of the ruling, and the FCC argues that traditional antitrust laws will stop providers from hobbling their competitors.But net neutrality advocates worry that we'll soon see fast lanes appearing on the internet.
Columbia University law professor Tim Wu coined the term "network neutrality" in a 2003 paper about online discrimination.