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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Net neutrality: "A victory for free speech, plain and simple"

Courtesy of the Huffington Post.
I'm a writer. The Internet has been my right arm ever since a few decades ago when my very savvy son insisted that I buy a computer and get online. There was a time, folks, when I had to dash to the nearest library and wade through the stacks to discover tidbits of information I needed for an article I was writing. Imagine what that was like compared to today when all I have to do is type my question into a search box. So I'm among those applauding the FCC's approval of net neutrality rules of "open internet."

NPR has the story:

The Federal Communications Commission approved the policy known as net neutrality by a 3-2 vote at its Thursday meeting, with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saying the policy will ensure "that no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet."
The Open Internet Order helps to decide an essential question about how the Internet works, requiring service providers to be a neutral gateway instead of handling different types of Internet traffic in different ways — and at different costs.

"Today is a red-letter day," Wheeler said Thursday.

The dissenting votes came from Michael O'Rielly and Ajut Pai, Republicans who warned that the FCC was overstepping its authority and interfering in commerce to solve a problem that doesn't exist. They also complained that the measure's 300-plus pages weren't publicly released or openly debated.

The new policy would replace a prior version adopted in 2010 — but that was put on hold following a legal challenge by Verizon. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last year that the FCC did not have sufficient regulatory power over broadband.

After that ruling, the FCC looked at ways to reclassify broadband to gain broader regulatory powers. It will now treat Internet service providers as carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which regulates services as public utilities.

Update at 2:20 p.m. ET: Reactions — For And Against

Welcoming today's news, the ACLU's legislative counsel Gabe Rottman says:
"This is a victory for free speech, plain and simple. Americans use the internet not just to work and play, but to discuss politics and learn about the world around them. The FCC has a critical role to play in protecting citizens' ability to see what they want and say what they want online, without interference. Title II provides the firmest possible foundation for such protections. We are still sifting through the full details of the new rules, but the main point is that the Internet, the primary place where Americans exercise their right to free expression, remains open to all voices and points of view."

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