Today the U.S. Federal Communications Commission listened to the more than 4 million voices who asked for the agency to protect the open net. Voting 3-2 in favor of Net Neutrality, the agency re-classified broadband internet under Title II of the Communications Act—the strongest protections currently available. The move caps off almost a decade of activism by civil society groups in the U.S., but also pressure from groups outside the country including members of the Global Net Neutrality coalition.
The full text of the rules, which will number some 300 pages, won’t be released immediately. So it’s too early to tell if they adequately address the use of so-called “zero rating” practices, which allow telcos to give away services for free in an anti-competitive manner. Last week Access filed a letter to the commission identifying this potentially glaring loophole.
Today’s vote to preserve net neutrality is a victory for innovation, for diversity, and for all internet users. Civil society groups have shown that they are committed to using technology’s power to make a more democratic and equitable world. It is also an important signal to the rest of the world of the importance of the open net. In Europe, legislators have been closely watching the Net Neutrality movement in the U.S. as it looks to finalize the adoption of its omnibus Telecoms Single Market legislation. And more than 31 organizations from 21 countries—including Korea, Venezuela, Colombia, the Netherlands, and Pakistan—already urged the U.S. to protect the open net, citing the importance of U.S. leadership on this issue. The website http://thisisnetneutrality.org has translated the term Net Neutrality into some 18 languages.
It’s a big moment. But we know that zero-rating practices affect users at risk, especially in under-served communities that have fewer choices to access the net. We’ll keep you updated on the rules as we learn about them.
Click here to read comments from members of the Global Net Neutrality Coalition on the importance of Net Neutrality around the world.