In Historic Vote, FCC Advances Rules to Kill 'Open Internet'
- October 15, 2020
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Despite national outcry and protests both outside and inside a packed hearing room in Washington, DC, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted in favor of advancing a set of rules that threaten the heart of the “open internet” by allowing the creation of “paid priority fast lanes,” supplanting the principle known as ‘net neutrality’ which says all online content must receive equal treatment by the nation’s broadband networks.
In a vote of 3 to 2, with the Democrats on the commission making up the majority, the FCC approved a proposal by Chairman Tom Wheeler which critics say would not just alter net neutrality, but destroy it.
As the Washington Post reports:
Condemnation by those opposing the rule changes was swift.
“If Chairman Wheeler is sincere in his objections to a fast-lane, slow-lane Internet, then reclassification is the only way to prevent this terrible scenario from becoming a reality.”
—Craig Aaron, Free Press
Craig Aaron, president of Free Press, which has led the charge of a broad coalition fighting on behalf of net neutrality, acknowledged that nothing about the FCC rule changes is final and now that a public comment period has officially begun, the real fight for lasting reforms has now started. In a statement in response to Thursday vote, Aaron said:
Expressing the need for continued public engagement and activism and the overall importance of reclassifying broadband, Michael Weinberg, vice president of Public Knowledge, said: “This will be the summer of net neutrality. Net neutrality supporters will make it clear to the FCC and Congress that only robust net neutrality rules that prevent paid prioritization, grounded in clear Title II authority, will suffice. Any rules that allow for harmful discrimination cannot truly be called net neutrality. And any rules based on creaky legal authority are just a waste of everyone’s time.”
In a statement released by the public advocacy group Common Cause, former FCC chairman Michael Copps, now a special adviser to the group, said the FCC’s vote should make Thursday “an alarming day for anyone who treasures a free and open Internet.”
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“Let’s be clear. Any proposal to allow fast lanes for the few is emphatically not net neutrality.”
—Michael Copps, Common Cause
Copps continued: “Let’s be clear. Any proposal to allow fast lanes for the few is emphatically not net neutrality. The clear common-sense prerequisite for an Open Internet is Title II reclassification, guaranteeing the agency’s authority to protect consumers and ensure free speech online.”
“The FCC could have moved decisively to guarantee that the Internet remains an open platform for free expression and the exchange of democracy-sustaining communications,” said Copps. “Instead, the Commission again left broadband users without the protections they deserve.”
Under the hashtags #savetheinternet and #realnetneutrality other critics of the FCC vote were expressing their deep disappointment in the Democratic commissioners who vote in favor of the rules:
Tweets about ” #savetheinternet #netneutrality”