Sen. Elizabeth Warren joins the growing number of Democratic lawmakers who want to save the internet. In this Facebook post she homes in on the key point—the proposed rule the Federal Communications Commission will consider in two weeks is a big giveaway to corporate interests.
We don’t know who is going to have the next big idea in this country, but we’re pretty sure they’re going to need to get online to do it. Reports that the FCC may gut net neutrality are disturbing, and would be just one more way the playing field is tilted for the rich and powerful who have already made it. Our regulators already have all the tools they need to protect a free and open Internet—where a handful of companies cannot block or filter or charge access fees for what we do online. They should stand up and use them.The proposal put forward by Chairman Tom Wheeler essentially gives up on the idea of making internet providers treat everybody alike in their access to internet users. Content providers—like Netflix—would have to pay extra to the big internet service providers like Verizon in order to make sure they get on the fast lanes of the internet, and their customers get the experience they're paying for.
This is the route that Chairman Wheeler decided upon after a court struck down the previous rule the FCC was using to enforce net neutrality. But, as Warren argues, just giving in and letting the big guys have the internet isn't the only option the FCC has—and in fact, the court decision that led to this proposed rule gave the FCC a much stronger option. The court made clear that the FCC absolutely has the legal authority to regulate broadband, and it can do it by reclassifying broadband providers into the kind of telecommunications companies they actually are like. That would mean the FCC could regulate them just like wireless operators and phone companies. And enforce net neutrality.
Which is the last thing that the broadband providers want. They've got the ear of Wheeler and inordinate sway with the FCC. The playing field, as Warren would say, is definitely tilted in their favor. The only way to combat that is by the rest of us making a hell of a lot of noise.