Verizon struck a mortal blow against Net Neutrality by persuading a federal judge to throw out the Federal Communication Commission’s Open Internet Order.
And now FCC Chair Tom Wheeler faces a choice — he can stand up for Net Neutrality or help Verizon kill it for good. The fate of the open Internet rests on this choice.
Over a million of us asked him to implement strong new Net Neutrality rules that will both pass legal muster and ensure Americans have access to a free and open Internet.
But instead Wheeler recently proposed a new set of rules that will put the final nail in the coffin for Net Neutrality. This is wrong.
We only have until the May 15 FCC meeting to push back hard enough to get Wheeler to change course.
Net Neutrality is a principle that says that Internet users, not Internet service providers (ISPs), should be in control. It ensures that Internet service providers can’t speed up, slow down, or block web content based on its source, ownership, or destination.
Net Neutrality is dead for the time being – but the FCC could stand up to Verizon and AT&T; and pass strong rules.
Instead, Wheeler’s proposed rules would divide the Internet into fast lanes for wealthy corporations and slow lanes for the rest of us. Internet service providers (ISPs) would be allowed to relegate content to the slow lane unless the content provider paid up.
That means that the speed you could stream a video, for example, would not just depend on the kind of Internet plan you purchase from your ISP. It would also heavily depend upon whether the entity hosting the video paid for the express lane so that it didn’t take forever to download. Not only is this anti-consumer, allowing corporations to decide what kind of content you can access on the Internet is fundamentally anti-democratic.
Sign the petition telling Chairman Wheeler: Don’t help Verizon kill Net Neutrality.
Back in 2010, this latest court decision was utterly predictable. A federal court had already ruled that unless the FCC reversed the Bush-era decision to deregulate broadband, the FCC couldn’t enforce Net Neutrality rules. Then FCC Chair Genachowski tested the waters with a proposal to re-regulate (or in the jargon of the FCC “reclassify”) broadband. Genachowski himself said that, according to the FCC General Counsel, pushing ahead with policies without reregulating broadband would be unwise given the tenuous legal footing the FCC would find itself in.
But the Obama administration’s support for Net Neutrality was so weak that his FCC declined to reclassify broadband as a prerequisite to passing Net Neutrality rules. Without providing this legal framework, the Open Internet Order was never anything more than a cynical ploy by Democrats to claim a victory on Net Neutrality while actually caving on real protections for consumers.
New FCC Chair Tom Wheeler has a chance to change this. He recently made a strong statement in support of Net Neutrality and the necessary legal framework to defend it, saying that “it is essential that the FCC continue to maintain an open Internet and maintain the legal ability to intervene promptly and effectively in the event of aggravated circumstances.”
Now we need to hold him to it. If he wants to ensure the FCC maintains an open Internet, he needs to do far better than proposals that will allow for the corporate takeover of the Internet.
We need him to muster the political will to take action immediately and save Net Neutrality by reversing the deregulation of broadband and giving teeth to the FCC’s ability to enforce Net Neutrality rules and force Internet service providers to treat all traffic equally.