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Don't pin your hopes on Facebook, Google, and other massive tech companies to keep the internet a level playing field — here’s why

ajit pai

(Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai has raised some big questions for the tech industry.Eric Gaillard/Reuters)
There’s a tendency to talk about net neutrality in black and white terms.

The narrative often deems net neutrality a liberal versus conservative issue, or a battle between two different types of tech forces — internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon on one side, internet companies like Netflix, Google, and everyone else on the other.

The truth is, things are a bit more nuanced.

For one, polls have repeatedly suggested that most Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, support net neutrality as a concept. Most people involved in this debate agree that an ISP shouldn’t be allowed to artificially block or slow certain websites, or give preferential treatment to some sites in exchange for payment.

The dividing lines here are really about power: who has it, who doesn’t, and who would have it in a world without enforceable net-neutrality laws, which is what Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai seems intent on creating. And within that divide, there are layers.

(Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the FCC's current net-neutrality rules on Wednesday, but has run afoul of net-neutrality advocates in the past.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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