Two good things out of Washington today – better than this embarrassment also that also happened there today.
Net Neutrality:The FCC passed net neutrality rules based on the strongest legal authority-Title II of the Telecommunications Act-to keep access from being controlled by corporations acting in their own interest, and not in the public’s interest. Vote was 3-2, Democrats for, Republicans against. Before the meeting, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler reached out his arms to clasp the hands of fellow Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel (it’s a great photo). The new policy, he said, will ensure “that no one – whether government or corporate – should control free open access to the Internet.”
We also have President Barack Obama to thank for this.
Verizon, predictably, decided to be a dick.
Tom Wheeler, the commission chairman, said the F.C.C. was using “all the tools in our toolbox to protect innovators and consumers” and preserve the Internet’s role as a “core of free expression and democratic principles.”
More on the landmark net neutrality vote, FCC’s municipal broadband ruling and comments on both from Sen. Cory Booker – on the jump page.
The new rules outlaw the practice of paid prioritization, which would have provided advantage to entities paying for speed and made life Hell for Blue Jersey and its readers. Also gone, the blocking of websites by internet service providers in favor of other sites with a commercial relationship with that ISP, and the practice of throttling when ISPs intentionally slow down some content to speed up others.
These new rules level the playing field and treat consumers more fairly. But they interfere with unfettered corporate profits. So expect legal challenges and an effort to undermine the FCC. Sen. Cory Booker on today’s decision:
“It’s a landmark day in the history of the Internet. The FCC’s approval of Net Neutrality rules is a tremendous victory for freedom of ideas, of information, and of expression. I’ve long-believed that the principles of openness, non-discrimination, and the free flow of information are fundamental to economic growth and entrepreneurship fostered by the Internet. Today’s vote is great news for anyone who believes in the transformative power of technology.”
Municipal Broadband: Also today, another precedent-setting decision by FCC. They voted 3-2 along party lines to allow some municipalities to set up and then expand municipal internet service, preempting state laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that blocked such efforts. Only those two states are affected but there are about 20 states with similar restrictive laws. This opens the door to challenges from within more states. Booker again:
“I salute the FCC’s vote to preserve the rights of communities trying to make important broadband investments. As mayor of Newark, I saw how cities are often in the best position to innovate and find solutions to the specific challenges facing their residents. Sadly, some states have enacted laws that bar cities from connecting their communities. With this vote, the FCC is standing up for the rights of municipalities over special interests that may not find it profitable to invest in low-income and rural areas. It’s another step in the right direction as Americans seek to leverage their strengths in the digital age.”