On Thursday February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States voted in favor of net neutrality. In a 3-2 vote, Chairperson Tom Wheeler announced that it would reclassify the internet under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. In short, this would classify the internet as a public utility rather than a service. This comes as good news to the millions of American citizens who chose to make their voices hear via letters and protests, vying to protect the internet. The premise is so that all legal content on the internet be equally accessible. While this is a cornerstone for the movement, the war is far from over.
Before the rules are to come into effect, they must first be approved and then published on the Federal Register for comment. The new rules expected to be imposed will bar internet service providers (ISPs) from charging tiered rates to consumers and limiting access to only certain content, in addition to “throttling” bandwidth. This is good from a consumer standpoint, but these methods happen to be effective ways for ISPs to make money. Naturally, corporate entities such as Verizon and AT&T plan to sue the FCC over their ruling. To be honest though, it may not even have to come to that. The Republican led administration could vote to overturn the FCC’s decision; given that President Obama doesn’t veto the administration’s decision.
Politics: An Imperfect Circle (but I digress…)
Still, an open internet can be a welcome sight under the right guidance. ACLU’s legislative counsel Gabe Rottman says:
“This is a victory for free speech, plain and simple. Americans use the Internet not just to work and play, but to discuss politics and learn about the world around them. The FCC has a critical role to play in protecting citizens’ ability to see what they want and say what they want online, without interference. Title II provides the firmest possible foundation for such protections. We are still sifting through the full details of the new rules, but the main point is that the Internet, the primary place where Americans exercise their right to free expression, remains open to all voices and points of view.”
We’ve yet to see how the rest of the fight will pan out, but it’s my hope that will the correct leadership and guidance we will see an open internet that will be sustainable and free of overburdened taxation.