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Read these 5 things to finally understand net neutrality

February 27, 2015, 6:25 PM UTC
Members of the audience react after Federal Communications Commission voting at Net Neutrality hearing in Washington
Members of the audience react after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voting at Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015. The FCC is expected Thursday to approve Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposed "net neutrality" rules, regulating broadband providers more heavily than in the past and restricting their power to control download speeds on the web. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS TELECOMS) - RTR4RBEN
Photograph by Yuri Gripas — Reuters

A wonky bit of tech policy called “net neutrality” has been making the headlines this week as government regulators voted to expand their authority over the Internet. Opposed by the telecoms but championed by consumer advocates, the new rules give the Federal Communications Commission more power to regulate how companies like Comcast and Verizon handle Internet traffic.

For Fortune’s take on net neutrality, check out Fortune Live at 3 p.m. ET Friday as well as Tory Newmeyer’s piece from yesterday on why big tech isn’t celebrating the decision.

But what is net neutrality? Here’s a collection of some of the best stories explaining the concept – and yesterday’s decision – from around the web:

1. If you need a general explainer of what’s been going on, look no further than Brian Fung’s piece from the Washington Post:

The FCC and President Obama believe that if some Web site operators have to pay extra money to get their content to you, that could make it harder for start-ups and small businesses to get off the ground. It would also limit the kinds of services and applications available to users. That’s why they’re proposing new rules on Internet providers, in an attempt to make sure there’s no prioritization of some Web traffic over others.

2. Want to have a better grasp of what’s slated to happen next? Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s take from after the decision was handed out:

Nevertheless public support for firmer oversight of broadband is running high. Concerns about the growing power of giant firms were fanned a year ago when Comcast struck a $45 billion deal to buy fellow Internet provider Time Warner Cable. The FCC received around four million comments on its net-neutrality proposals.

3. This explainer from Vox summed up what the dissenting Republican commissioners of the FCC had to say:

The FCC vote fell along party lines, with the two Republicans on the commission opposing Chairman Wheeler’s proposal. In comments before the vote, both commissioners blasted the move as a big government overreach.

4. Care to read some of Wheeler’s statements from yesterday? Ars Technica has you covered:

The Internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet. It is simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field. Think about it. The Internet has replaced the functions of the telephone and the post office. The Internet has redefined commerce, and as the outpouring from four million Americans has demonstrated, the Internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression. The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.

5. And here’s how Google’s silence helped the case big-time, according to Wired:

Google certainly cares about net neutrality. Three years ago, it hired the FCC’s top lawyer, Austin Schlick, and he’s lobbied the FCC several times over the past year, according to the FCC. But there was no Net Neutrality Google Doodle on the front page of the company’s search engine—not even a press statement from the company after the historic FCC vote this morning. And it wasn’t the only one.