Network neutrality rules have been an ongoing controversy for years. Are the efforts of Internet providers like AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) to prioritize Web traffic reminiscent of the Chinese government's Internet censorship?

White House deputy chief technology officer Andrew McLaughlin, former chief of global policy at Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), thinks so. He went on to say that free speech and net neutrality are "intrinsically linked," according to a recent Washington Post article.

Google, (NASDAQ:AMZN), and many other big tech firms oppose giving Internet providers the power to diminish or block certain sites' traffic if user demand surges. They argue that a world where ISPs charge sites more to provide faster, better service would put smaller competitors in the slow lane, throttling innovation and competition. The Internet providers argue that their anti-regulatory stance would alleviate Web congestion, not crack down on free speech or free enterprise.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.