In a historic win for the fight to protect online free speech and digital organizing, a federal appeals court upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules this morning. The rules protect consumers by requiring internet service providers to treat all online traffic equally, keeping the web accessible to all.
A loss would have allowed broadband companies to play gatekeeper - creating fast lanes online for the 1% and pushing the rest of us to the slow lanes. Cable and telephone companies would have been able to block or degrade sites which they disfavor, essentially making it easier for the well-heeled to control the way we interact and express ourselves online.
As a college student, I find this terrifying. The vast majority of my work requires the internet. I use it every day to stay in touch with friends and family, complete assignments, read the news, pay bills, and schedule my time.
Even more frightening is what a loss today could have done to our democracy. For 21st century advocates and activists, the internet has become an indispensable tool for organizing and taking action. Barriers to internet access would reduce citizens’ ability to engage and make change.
The court’s decision is an important milestone. The fight is not over yet though. Big companies want to amend federal spending bills to reverse today’s win; they would gut the FCC’s ability to protect consumers, crack down on abusive practices, and reform the cable set top box market.
The House Appropriations Committee just approved legislation that would hamstring the FCC’s ability to defend our digital rights. This type of backdoor, sneak attack on the FCC is an anti-democratic push by Big Cable and Telecom to limit citizens’ right to free expression.
Office: Common Cause National