In a move with significant implications for how easily researchers, educators, students, and others can transfer large files online, federal regulators on Feb. 25 said they are ready to discipline internet service providers who secretly favor certain types of data traffic, such as web surfing, over others, such as file sharing.

At a hearing over allegations of internet traffic discrimination by Comcast Corp., the Federal Communications Commission chairman said the complaints underscore the need to enforce the FCC’s current broad principles intended to promote so-called “net neutrality.”

“The commission...

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