ISPs violating net neutrality rule?

Recent reports show that several small ISPs are redirecting search queries, primarily through a vendor named Paxfire. (See storie: here, here, and here.) That is, if you put a search in for certain brands–like Apple–rather than receive search results, you are redirected directly to the Apple page. (EFF describes this in the paragraph beginning “Under specific conditions” here.) The ISPs seem to deny authorizing Paxfire’s conduct.

The FCC adopted net neutrality rules in December. While the rule has exceptions, it definitely forbids ISPs from “blocking” websites. I think there’s a good argument that Paxfire is blocking the sites of search engines. Since Paxfire is the ISPs partner vendor, I think the ISPs would be responsible for Paxfire’s actions. Otherwise, ISPs could simply hire vendors to skirt the rules.

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