FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler with Democratic commissioners Mignon Clyburn (L) and Jessica Rosenworcel at the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington February 26, 2015.
The Federal Communications Commission has just voted to save the internet in two party-line votes, 3-2. It would be impossible to overstate just how critical these votes taken by the commissioners today are to making the internet accessible to everyone. Those two votes were to prevent states from limiting competition in broadband service by blocking localities from developing municipal broadband services. That's big. To go even bigger, the FCC voted to reclassify broadband and to extend to it the strongest rules to protect the internet.
Marvin Ammori, a long-time net neutrality advocate, writes about just how huge this win on net neutrality really is.
Victory was impossible even to imagine. The vote comes after at least 8 front-page news cycles, 6 expert roundtables, 4 million comments, 2 FCC computer crashes, and 1 unified policy campaign. The vote is already touted as among the biggest public interest victories in history and arguably the biggest Internet freedom victory ever. "Ever" means: this victory is even bigger than the victory over the Stop Online Piracy Act in 2012, a copyright bill that could have censored our favorite websites but went down in flames when Wikipedia, reddit, Google and others joined in an Internet-wide blackout for one day.
Biggest. Internet. Freedom. Victory. Ever.
This is an existential fight for the internet, and it was won by us, by all the little guys banding together in an overwhelming force for good against big telecom. As Tim Berners Lee argued in video testimony to the FCC this morning, "it's about consumer rights, free speech, and democracy" and all of those things won today.
That win would have been good enough, but then the FCC had to go one better and open up municipal broadband, too. At issue were laws passed in Tennessee and North Carolina to block development of municipal broadband in the cities of Wilson, NC, and Chattanooga, TN. Those cities asked the FCC to pre-empt those restrictions, and that's just what the FCC did. That means that Wilson and Chattanooga can move forward to create competition to AT&T. It also means that other municipalities in the 19 state that limit municipal broadband can also be challenged. And that means more competition and better internet for many communities.
This resounding win for net neutrality and for a more open and free internet gives us tremendous momentum going into the next round of the fight, which is in Congress. Better, it's going to take the wind of Republican sails in trying to roll back what the FCC just did. It doesn't mean the fight is over, but it does mean that we're fighting on much, much stronger ground. The 2 million comments that the Daily Kos community sent to the FCC, out of more than 4 million total, made the difference. We'll do it again. Let's take this win and use it to finish the fight.
Some members of Congress, on behalf of their Cable donors, are trying to stop the FCC from protecting the Internet we love. There isn't much time to stop them, contact them now.
10:02 AM PT: Every Democratic Commissioner gave a rousing shout-out to the 4 million of us who took the time to contact them and weigh in on this, and Chairman Wheeler wrapped up by thanking us. That's the power we have to finish this battle!