Today, the Federal Communications Commission passed a proposition that will now classify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as common carriers, allowing them to be governed under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
In layman's terms, the FCC will now have strict guidelines that prohibit broadband providers from blocking apps, throttling download speeds, and implementing paid fast lanes to privilege certain traffic sources over others. The rules will apply to wireless service providers as well as broadband providers, and will prevent carriers from slowing down their networks for any reason other than "reasonable network management." (In other words, Comcast can't slow down your Netflix streaming because it had a business dispute with Netflix's executives.)
The ruling is a landmark decision on a topic that has been a tug-of-war over the past decade, and has caused many big name communication and technology companies to spilt sides on the debate.
In response to today's vote, Verizon had this to say:
"The FCC’s move is especially regrettable because it is wholly
unnecessary. The FCC had targeted tools available to preserve an open
Internet, but instead chose to use this order as an excuse to adopt 300-
plus pages of broad and open- ended regulatory arcana that will have
unintended negative consequences for consumers and various parts of the
Internet ecosystem for years to come."
House Speaker John Boehner had this to say through a link he tweeted moments after the decision:
"Overzealous government bureaucrats should keep their hands off the Internet. Today, three appointed by President Obama approved a secret plan to put the federal government in control of the Internet… More mandates and regulations on American innovation and entrepreneurship are not the answer, and that’s why Republicans will continue our efforts to stop this misguided scheme."
Broadband for America (BfA) Honorary Co-Chairs John Sununu and Harold Ford Jr. released this statement:
"The FCC's decision to impose obsolete telephone-era regulations on the high-speed Internet is one giant step backwards for America's broadband networks and everyone who depends upon them. These 'Title II' rules go far beyond protecting the Open Internet, launching a costly and destructive era of government micromanagement that will discourage private investment in new networks and slow down the breakneck innovation that is the soul of the Internet today. … There is only one solution: now is the time for Congress to act, to enshrine the Open Internet into law, end the gamesmanship, and secure America's continued leadership in the global Internet economy."
While on the other side of the fight, MoveOn.Org celebrated today's decision by releasing this statement:
"By protecting the open Internet from big cable companies that want to limit access, this victory levels the playing field for consumers, small businesses, and Main Street. We are grateful for the leadership of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the FCC commissioners who voted for this plan in the face of powerful interests; for President Obama, who backed the net's roots at a pivotal time in this fight; and for the millions of Americans who spoke out powerfully and organized on this issue."
And FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler went on record, saying:
"This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept: openness."
Here is a fairly simple video explainer of what net neutrality is, and what today's decision means.
"I write about the future (Associate Producer at @ThisIsFusion).
I write about the past (publisher of #OGToldMe).
Oakland, CA raised me."