Net Neutrality: What's Mobile Got to Do With It?

This week Free Press filed a legal challenge to the FCC’s Open Internet rules, which passed last December and were just published in the Federal Register.

Unlike corporations like Verizon -- which is about to re-file its own lawsuit arguing that the FCC doesn't have the authority to enforce Net Neutrality -- we sued because we think the FCC’s rules need to be stronger. Particularly, they need to protect users of the mobile Internet. Right now, they don’t do that at all -- meaning that companies currently have the right to block your ability to access almost any site when you go online using your smartphone or wireless tablet.

(These are the same companies that are storing user data like Web-browsing history, text messages and call history on their servers.)

Let’s break down the problem here. When the FCC passed its rules last December, it created the fiction that the wireline Internet (the Internet you access on your laptop or desktop) is different from the wireless Internet (the Internet you access on your mobile device). The rules regarding wireline providers protect users and websites from “unreasonable discrimination.” But when it comes to accessing the Internet on our phones, those rules don't apply.

So if AT&T or Verizon wants to make a particular news site or social networking site load slower on your iPhone or Android, they can do that. If they want to block mobile apps like Facebook or Netflix, they can do that too. 

It’s an absurd distinction. At this point, mobile devices are basically powerful computers -- and in a few years they’ll be the main tools a majority of us use to get online -- yet they’re being treated as second-rate citizens by corporate-captured Washington.

This is outrageous. As multiple Net Neutrality violations throughout the years have shown, big telecoms can’t be trusted to oversee such a radically empowering technology without any oversight. And they’ve gone out of their way to overcharge us for text messaging and to limit our mobile broadband usage at a time when, as they know all too well, mobile data consumption is exploding.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good