Today U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed that the agency will move to pass strong Net Neutrality protections later this month. The decision comes after millions of internet users, companies, and organizations—including Access—filed comments to the commission last year, urging it to use Title II of the Communications Act to protect Net Neutrality.
Chairman Wheeler’s statement signals that the FCC could soon put its full enforcement power to work to protect the open internet for close to 300 million users—and countering the threats that blocking, “fast lanes,” and throttling of content and services pose to human rights like free expression and privacy online. In Chairman Wheeler’s own words, “These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.”
FCC Vote and Congressional roadblocks
After nearly a decade of activism, the movement to protect Net Neutrality has reached a critical moment in the U.S. While we await the FCC’s formal vote later this month, Access will continue advocating for the strongest possible rules against network discrimination.
At the same time, we’re letting the U.S. Congress know that the people have spoken in favor of strong regulations and FCC enforcement. Already, some members Congress are pushing a bill that claims to protect internet users, but would in fact weaken the FCC and its enforcement power. Others will react to the FCC’s decision with hearings, resolutions, and other activities designed to undermine — and ultimately destroy — Net Neutrality in the U.S.
Any action by Congress to roll back FCC authority or threaten common carrier status for broadband providers will meet thunderous opposition, by U.S. users as well as international communities.
A host of countries, as well as the European Parliament, have passed resolutions enshrining net neutrality. Yet there is still an opportunity for U.S. regulators to push global standards further. If Chairman Wheeler’s proposal carries through to strong rules later this month, the U.S. could become the largest market thus far that’s committed to upholding user rights to access all points on the global network.
Advocates around the world — from Argentina to Turkey to South Korea to the European Union — are fighting for many of the same protections as those being proposed by Wheeler. Access and our coalition partners will ensure that global policymakers see this action and respond with more protection for all internet users — whether on fixed or mobile connections. To underscore the world’s support for Net Neutrality, nearly 60 organizations from every continent have joined the Global Net Neutrality coalition, endorsing a simple definition of the term and vowing to work together to protect the open net. The full coalition list can be viewed here: https://www.thisisnetneutrality.org
Access will work with our partners to mobilize against Congressional roadblocks, and to ensure the FCC passes the strongest possible rules. In the meantime, though, we celebrate this as another big step toward an open, global internet for all.