10 Reasons Why You Should Care About Net Neutrality


China Has a Non-Neutral Internet

A woman views the Chinese social media website Weibo at a cafe in Beijing. The Chinese government routinely forces ISPs to block websites it does not like. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

If you're lucky enough to live in a country that doesn't regulate the information you access online, you probably take net neutrality for granted. You search the web unrestricted by government censors, free to choose what information to believe or discard, and what websites and online services to patronize.

In mainland China, citizens of the highly restrictive communist regime enjoy no such freedoms. This is what a heavily censored and closely monitored Internet looks like [source: The Economist]:

  • Chinese internet service providers (ISPs) block access to a long list of sites banned by the government.
  • Specific search terms are red flagged; type them into Google and you'll be blocked from the search engine for 90 seconds.
  • Chinese ISPs are given lists of problematic keywords and ordered to take down pages that include those words.
  • The government and private companies employ 100,000 people to police the internet and snitch on dissenters.
  • The government also pays people to post pro-government messages on social networks, blogs and message boards.

Proponents of net neutrality aren't arguing that the FCC's proposed rule changes will turn the U.S. into a China-like censorship state. Instead, they worry that corporations will buy influence with ISPs to disrupt access to competitors, or smother online speech that's critical of a company or its products.