Historic Day for Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission just approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Net Neutrality this morning, following through on its promise to preserve an open Internet.

The 1.6 million people who have supported Net Neutrality over the years, and the tens of thousands who came out in the last three days to stand behind the FCC, should be celebrating. Today’s vote is an important step toward securing the open Internet and a victory for the public interest and civil rights organizations, small businesses, Internet innovators, political leaders and the public.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn voted in favor of the rulemaking; Commissioners Meredith Attwell Baker and Robert McDowell gave partial support to the proposal.

The proposed rules would codify the four open Internet principles that now guide the FCC’s oversight and enforcement of communications law. The FCC also proposed rules that would codify two new principles prohibiting Internet service providers from discriminating against content or applications and ensuring that network management practices be transparent.

The agency is seeking public comment on these proposals, with initial comments due by Jan. 14 and reply comments due by March 5. We’ll let you know as soon as you can start filing official comments.

Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, welcomed the FCC’s progress:

    After years of hard work, we are pleased that the FCC has begun this crucially important rulemaking on Network Neutrality. A well-crafted Net Neutrality rule can ensure that the open Internet continues to serve as a great force for economic innovation and democratic participation for all Americans.

The FCC victory comes in spite of intense pressure from phone and cable lobbyists in Washington. This pressure will likely only increase as the FCC moves ever closer to finalizing strong Net Neutrality rules.

But the public pressure will continue, too. Scott urged the FCC to listen to the public and not be swayed by the heavy hand of industry lobbying:

    The agency should stick to the facts, listen to the public, and not be deterred in their efforts to finally secure this basic and beneficial consumer protection. The scare tactics of a few opponents should not delay or distract the FCC from safeguarding the open Internet for future generations. We welcome a new era at the FCC in which decisions made in the public interest withstand the cynical lobby of special interests from a few big phone and cable companies.

Congratulations, everyone. And don’t go anywhere – we’ve still got a real fight ahead of us.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good