The Verge article is followed by a
Call for Celebrations by OpenMedia (Once again we’ve seen that when people speak out together, we can win against entrenched interests.)
After which is the New York Times article on the subject. Quite good.
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From The Verge
Net neutrality has won at the FCC. In a 3-to-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission today established a new Open Internet Order that implements strict net neutrality rules, including prohibitions on site and app blocking, speed throttling, and paid fast lanes.
Critically, the order also reclassifies internet providers’ offerings as telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act. Though this is likely to provoke a challenge in court, Title II gives the commission the tools it needs to enforce these strict rules.
A huge win for
This is also the first time that net neutrality rules will apply, in full, to mobile internet service. Additionally, the commission uses the new order to assert its ability to investigate and address complaints about “interconnect” agreements — deals made between internet providers like Comcast and content companies like Netflix, which has regularly complained that these deals are unfair.
The FCC’s new order establishes a standard that requires internet providers to take no actions that unreasonably interfere with or disadvantage consumers or the companies whose sites and apps they’re trying to access. At most, internet providers may slow down service only for the purpose of “reasonable network management” — not a business purpose.
Title II is the FCC’s strongest tool
for enforcing open internet rules
This is a huge win for net neutrality advocates. Since the commission’s original net neutrality rules were struck down in court last year, advocates have been pushing for the FCC to use utility-style Title II reclassification when implementing a new order.
For a while, it didn’t look like that was going to happen. Commission chairman Tom Wheeler initially proposed rules that seemingly undermined the entire concept of net neutrality by allowing paid fast lanes. But earlier this month, following support from President Obama and millions of public comments spurred on by a popular John Oliver segment and advocacy from major websites like Netflix, Kickstarter, and Tumblr, Wheeler announced the dramatically overhauled new plan that was pushed through today.
“The action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the internet,” Wheeler said.
“We cannot have a two-tiered internet with fast lanes that speed the traffic of the privileged and leave the rest of us lagging behind,” commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said at today’s meeting. “We cannot have gatekeepers who tell us what we can and cannot do and where we can and cannot go online. And we do not need blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization schemes that undermine the internet as we know it.”
“We have to add net neutrality to a list of
basic market conditions that we protect.”
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn also spoke strongly in favor of the order. “We are here because we want to give those with deep pockets and those with empty pockets the same opportunities to succeed,” she said. Clyburn notes that, while she voted in favor of the 2010 rules, today’s order is far closer to what she originally supported. Clyburn also says that a minor classification change has been made to the proposal to address one of her concerns with it — an issue that Google and Free Press both agreed with her on. That said, Clyburn says that she would have liked to see the “unreasonable discrimination rule” from the 2010 order used here instead of the unreasonably interference rule, and that isn’t being changed.
As the vote makes clear, the entire commission isn’t on board with the new rules. Both Republican commissioners, Michael O’Rielly and Ajit Pai, have expressed their disagreement with the order. Prior to the vote today, O’Rielly issued a statement arguing that the commission’s decision-making power had been usurped by the administration for political purposes. He also argues that net neutrality is unnecessary, that Title II imposes overbearing regulation, and that Title II doesn’t actually stand on solid legal footing. For comparison, he has previously drawn a line between 4K TV and interplanetary teleportation.
Pai put forward a strong dissent as well, arguing that the commission was unable to act independently. “We are flip-flopping for one reason and one reason only,” Pai said. “President Obama told us to do so.” Pai believes that implementing this order will lead to “higher broadband prices, slower broadband speeds, less broadband deployment, less innovation, and fewer options for consumers.” He also questioned the commission’s legal authority to implement the order.
Advocates say net neutrality protects
economic opportunities and diversity
The commission also brought out a number of notable advocates to speak before the vote. That included Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, Veena Sud, an executive producer for The Killing who appeared to be speaking on behalf of Netflix, and Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web. Dickerson applauded the commission for protecting the internet “as an engine for economic opportunity, the likes of which we have never seen.” Sud pointed to multiple Netflix series and cited the greater diversity you find online. Berners-Lee put his feelings quite simply: “We have to add net neutrality to a list of basic market conditions that we protect.”
The new rules should go into effect around two to three months from now, though the time will vary depending on how long it takes the commission to release the order to the Federal Register. The commissioners may still need to fix technical points in the order, which can be changed with unanimous agreement.
Though this is an important victory for net neutrality advocates, their fight is not yet over. It is almost certain that one internet provider or another will challenge the rules in court, and those proceedings could take years, leaving the future of this order uncertain. The commission’s chances in court look good, but there are a number of complications that it will likely have to address. This time, at least, the FCC is using the strongest tools that it has to implement these protections.
Check out our FCC net neutrality meeting liveblog for more!
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OPEN MEDIA CALLS FOR CELEBRATION:
After over a year of campaigning, we’re thrilled to let you know that decision-makers at the U.S. FCC just made an historic ruling to ban Internet slow lanes.1
We’re still poring over the details with experts, but we can tell you that the FCC has heard our call and ensured Big Telecom cannot slow down your favorite websites!
Please join with us, celebrate, and share our historic victory image now.
A victory this sweet doesn’t come around very often – so let’s celebrate what we’ve done together.
This is huge news for Internet users around the world. The stakes couldn’t have been higher: with so many websites based in the U.S., the future of the global Internet hung in the balance.
But you joined with millions and spoke out when we needed you.
You signed the largest international petition against slow lanes; you helped over 60 letters get published in major newspapers; you submitted creative comments to the FCC; you got us to the White House for a crucial meeting; and many of you donated to make this all possible.
Once again we’ve seen that when people speak out together, we can win against entrenched interests.
CLICK HERE TO CELEBRATE WITH THE REST OF THE INTERNET
OpenMedia joined forces with an inspiring coalition of open Internet groups, civil rights organizations and web companies.
But what mattered most was people like you stepping up to make your voice heard.
President Obama 2 and the FCC 3 only agreed to meet with us last fall because people like you spoke up. Then, your support gave our campaign the staying power to bring them over to our side.
Let’s face it: You made this decision—the FCC is just implementing it. Celebrate now by sharing the news.
Going forward, you can count on us to keep fighting for the possibilities of the open Internet.
Whether it’s protecting your right to privacy, sticking up for free expression online, or ensuring all of us enjoy open and affordable access to the Internet—we’ll be there to take it on together with effective online tools to amplify your voice.
Thank you for inspiring us and so many others.
Until next time,
–Josh Tabish, on behalf of your OpenMedia team
P.S. The New York Times called the fight against the Internet slow lane “the longest, most sustained campaign of Internet activism in history.”4 None of it would have been possible without you. If you believe in our work to amplify your voice , chip in to keep us going here— grassroots support is the backbone of our work.
 FCC votes to protect the Internet with Title II regulation. Source: Verge
 Here’s what happened when I went to the White House. Source: OpenMedia
 We’re taking your voice straight to an FCC Commissioner who could stop the Internet slow lane. Source: OpenMedia
 F.C.C. Net Neutrality Rules Clear Hurdle as Republicans Concede to Obama. Source: New York Times
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THE NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE
Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, said that Democrats were lining up with President Obama in favor of the F.C.C. position on net neutrality.Credit Jabin Botsford/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Senior Republicans conceded on Tuesday that the grueling fight with President Obama over the regulation of Internet service appears over, with the president and an army of Internet activists victorious.
The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet. While the two Democratic commissioners are negotiating over technical details, they are widely expected to side with the Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, against the two Republican commissioners.
And Republicans on Capitol Hill, who once criticized the plan as “Obamacare for the Internet,” now say they are unlikely to pass a legislative response that would undo perhaps the biggest policy shift since the Internet became a reality.
“We’re not going to get a signed bill that doesn’t have Democrats’ support,” said Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. “This is an issue that needs to have bipartisan support.”
(Go to the URL to see video, How Net Neutrality Works, 2.53 minutes)
The new F.C.C. rules are still likely to be tied up in a protracted court fight with the cable companies and Internet service providers that oppose it, and they could be overturned in the future by a Republican-leaning commission. But for now, Congress’s hands appear to be tied.
The F.C.C. plan would let the agency regulate Internet access as if it is a public good. It would follow the concept known as net neutrality or an open Internet, banning so-called paid prioritization — or fast lanes — for willing Internet content providers.
In addition, it would ban the intentional slowing of the Internet for companies that refuse to pay broadband providers. The plan would also give the F.C.C. the power to step in if unforeseen impediments are thrown up by the handful of giant companies that run many of the country’s broadband and wireless networks.
Republicans hoped to pre-empt the F.C.C. vote with legislation, but Senate Democrats insisted on waiting until after Thursday’s F.C.C. vote before even beginning to talk about legislation for an open Internet. Even Mr. Thune, the architect of draft legislation to override the F.C.C., said Democrats had stalled what momentum he could muster.
“We’ve been outspent, outlobbied. We were going up against the second-biggest corporate lobby in D.C., and it looks like we’ve won,” said Dave Steer, director of advocacy for the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit technology foundation that runs Firefox, a popular Web browser, referring to the cable companies. “A year ago today, we did not think we would be in this spot.”
The net neutrality movement pitted new media against old and may well have revolutionized notions of corporate social responsibility and activism. Top-down decisions by executives investing in or divesting themselves of resources, paying lobbyists and buying advertisements were upended by the mobilization of Internet customers and users.
“We don’t have an army of lobbyists to deploy. We don’t have financial resources to throw around,” said Liba Rubenstein, director of social impact and public policy at the social media company Tumblr, which is owned by Yahoo, the large Internet company, but operated independently on the issue. “What we do have is access to an incredibly engaged, incredibly passionate user base, and we can give folks the tools to respond.”
Internet service providers say heavy-handed regulation of the Internet will diminish their profitability and crush investment to expand and speed up Internet access. It could even open the web to taxation to pay for new regulators.
Brian Dietz, a spokesman for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, said the pro-net-neutrality advocates turned a complex and technical debate over how best to keep the Internet operating most efficiently into a matter of religion. The forces for stronger regulation, he said, became viewed as for the Internet. Those opposed to the regulation were viewed as against the Internet.
The Internet companies, he said, sometimes mislead their customers, and in some cases, are misled on the intricacies of the policy.
“Many of the things they have said just belie reality and common sense,” he said.
In April, a dozen New York-based Internet companies gathered at Tumblr’s headquarters in the Flatiron district to hear dire warnings that broadband providers were about to obtain the right to charge for the fastest speeds on the web.
The implication: If they did not pony up, they would be stuck in the slow lane.
What followed was the longest, most sustained campaign of Internet activism in history. A swarm of small players, like Tumblr, Etsy, BoingBoing and Reddit, overwhelmed the giants of the broadband world, Comcast, Verizon Communications and Time Warner Cable. Two of the biggest players on the Internet, Amazon and Google, largely stayed in the background, while smaller participants — some household names like Twitter and Netflix, others far more obscure, like Chess.com and Urban Dictionary — mobilized a grass-roots crusade.
“Our community is the source of our power,” said Althea Erickson, director of public policy at Etsy, an online craft market, where users embroidered pillows and engraved spoons promoting net neutrality.
In mid-October, the tech activist group Fight for the Future acquired the direct telephone numbers of about 30 F.C.C. officials, circumventing the agency’s switchboard to send calls directly to policy makers. That set off a torrent of more than 55,000 phone calls until the group turned off the spigot on Dec. 3.
In November, President Obama cited “almost four million public comments” when he publicly pressured the F.C.C. to turn away from its paid “fast lane” proposal and embrace a new regulatory regime.
Since then, the lobbying has grown only more intense. Last week, 102 Internet companies wrote to the F.C.C. to say the threat of Internet service providers “abusing their gatekeeper power to impose tolls and discriminate against competitive companies is the real threat to our future,” not “heavy-handed regulation” and possible taxation, as conservatives in Washington say.
Republicans have grown much quieter under the barrage.
“Tech companies would be better served to work with Congress on clear rules for the road. The thing that they’re buying into right now is a lot of legal uncertainty,” said Mr. Thune. “I’m not sure exactly what their thinking is.”
Mr. Thune said he was still willing to work with Democrats on legislation that he said would do what the F.C.C. is trying to accomplish, without a heavy regulatory hand: Ban paid “fast lanes” and stop intentional slowdowns — or “throttling” — by broadband companies seeking payment from Internet content providers.
But even he said Democrats were ready to let the F.C.C. do the job.
Correction: February 24, 2015
An earlier version of this article, using information from a Tumblr executive, misstated the location of the Tumblr boardroom. It is in the Flatiron district, not in the Flatiron Building.