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.
- 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.