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Why Everyone Is Talking About Net Neutrality Again

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On today’s episode of the Tech Talk Tuesday podcast, Ryan McQueeney discusses the return of the net neutrality debate as California and the Trump administration appear ready to battle over the state’s right to pass its own version of the now-repealed, Obama-era protections.

Remember to subscribe and leave a rating on Apple Podcasts if you enjoy the show!

Net neutrality is the concept that internet service providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the internet the same, regardless of its source. After years of consideration and court decisions, the Obama-era FCC reclassified ISPs and implemented net neutrality rules in 2015.

This policy been the subject of widespread public debate over the past year and a half after Trump administration FCC chairman Ajit Pai proposed repealing the policies. The repeal was met with heavy protest, led by grassroots activist campaigns and internet content companies such as Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) and Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) .

Nevertheless, Pai and fellow critics of net neutrality trudged on, suggesting that ISPs like AT&T (T - Free Report) and Comcast (CMCSA - Free Report) are able to offer better deals for customers when they are allowed to discount certain data sources. It was also reported that telecom companies were lobbying the FCC heavily in order to push a repeal through.

Despite public outcry, the net neutrality debate seemed to fade away as the FCC eventually passed a repeal of the rules, with changes taking effect in June 2018. A Senate vote to protect the regulations was not taken up by the House of Representatives, and since our political attention span is short these days, new issues took over the national conversation.

But serious net neutrality proponents never let the campaign go, and the battleground to keep the rules shifted to individual states. Washington, Oregon, and California legislatures have now passed their own versions of net neutrality laws aimed at maintaining the “free internet” to the extent that they can.

And now the debate looks ready to snag the national spotlight again, as California and the Trump administration gear up for a legal fight over the most populous state’s new law.

Indeed, just hours after California governor Jerry Brown signed the net neutrality bill, the U.S. Justice Department filed suit against the state, arguing that California is “attempting to subvert the Federal Government’s deregulatory approach by imposing burdensome state regulations on the free Internet, which is unlawful and anti-consumer.”

But what are the key legal arguments being made by either side? What are the arguments for and against net neutrality, anyway? Ryan answers these questions, and more, on today’s Tech Talk Tuesday!

The host also explains how this conversation is really more of a future-minded debate, as the relevancy of net neutrality rules grows when ISPs like AT&T buy content and platform providers like Time Warner. Should customers be worried about conflicts of interest? Ryan shares his perspective.

If you feel that we missed something, or if you want us to cover a different story, shoot us an email at podcast@zacks.com. Make sure to check out all of our other audio content at zacks.com/podcasts, and remember to subscribe and leave us a rating!

As always, thanks for listening to the Zacks Tech Talk Tuesday Podcast; we will see you next time!

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