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How 14 major news outlets explain net neutrality

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Today's FCC decision to protect the internet with Title II regulation is a big win for the internet and net neutrality advocates — and the start of a big fight for both sides of the issue. But here's a pretty big question, what is net neutrality?

The answer isn't always so clear, and depending on where you read about today's news first, your interpretation of the phrase might vary a bit. That isn't to say anyone is flat-out wrong, but that summarizing an abstract concept can be open to various interpretations (we're partial our own interpretation, of course). Yes, there are already hundreds of standalone "what is net neutrality?" explainers, and there will assuredly be hundreds more. But for those who read only one news item on today's FCC decision — from just one news source — here's what they probably think it means:

The New York Times: In Net Neutrality Victory, F.C.C. Classifies Broadband Internet Service as a Public Utility

The new rules, approved 3 to 2 along party lines, are intended to ensure that no content is blocked and that the Internet is not divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for Internet and media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else. Those prohibitions are hallmarks of the net neutrality concept.

USA Today: FCC approves new net neutrality rules

Net neutrality, also called open Internet, is a principle that Internet networks are equally available to all types of legal content generators. Internet service providers (ISPs), mostly large cable or telephone companies, would be prohibited from discriminating against content by slowing transmission speeds or seeking payments in exchange for faster lanes of their Internet networks, a practice called "paid prioritization."

The Guardian: Net neutrality: FCC set to vote on new rules governing future of broadband

Activists and tech companies are keen to protect the principle of net neutrality – the idea that all information and services should have equal access to the internet.

Reuters: U.S. regulators vote to set new, tougher net neutrality rules

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 along party lines, with Democrats in support, to set new so-called net neutrality rules that would regulate Internet service providers more like traditional telephone companies.

The rules ban Internet providers from blocking and unfairly slowing down any web traffic on their pipes or striking deals with content companies for faster or smoother downloads, among other things. Republicans argue the broad scope of the rules represents government overreach.

CNN: FCC adopts historic Internet rules

The new rules, known as "net neutrality," act to provide equal opportunity for Internet speeds and access to websites.

MSNBC: FCC passes net neutrality rules

After more than a year of heated public debate, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday passed "net neutrality" rules: They allow the agency to prohibit Internet service providers from granting faster access to companies that pay for the privilege.

NBC News: FCC Passes Net Neutrality Rules in Victory for Open-Internet Activists

After more than a year of heated public debate, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday passed "net neutrality" rules: They allow the agency to prohibit Internet service providers from granting faster access to companies that pay for the privilege.

And here are a few that answer the question more indirectly:

Bloomberg: FCC Adopts Net-Neutrality Rule Backed by Obama for Internet

The measure approved Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission prohibits companies such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from blocking or slowing online traffic and from offering faster service in return for payment. It also brings wireless Internet service fully under the rules for the first time.

WSJ: FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Setting Stage For Legal Battle

"The rules prohibit Internet service providers from blocking Web traffic or charging websites for priority service. They also extend the FCC’s reach into the middle of the Internet by saying the commission will review so-called interconnection deals between companies such as Netflix and Comcast Corp. on a case-by-case basis to make sure they are reasonable."

The Washington Post: The FCC approves strong net neutrality rules

The rules would dramatically expand the agency's oversight of the country's high-speed broadband providers, regulating them like a public utility. They were adopted by a 3-to-2 margin with the commission's Republican members voting against them.

NPR: FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules For 'Open Internet'

The Open Internet Order helps to decide an essential question about how the Internet works, requiring service providers to be a neutral gateway instead of handling different types of Internet traffic in different ways — and at different costs.

The Associated Press: FCC rules in favor of 'Net neutrality, stricter provider rules

Net neutrality is the idea that websites or videos load at about the same speed. That means you won't be more inclined to watch a particular show on Amazon Prime instead of on Netflix because Amazon has struck a deal with your service provider to load its data faster.

Update: The AP is used by many, many news outlets including Fox News and Al Jazeera America, which we had all originally broken out separately. We're still keeping the number at 14, counting AP / Fox News / AJA as three separate tallies, as the number is arbitrary and each outlet does have the option to either go with AP's words wholesale or use their own words / headlines (which is especially true in the Fox News case).