Net Neutrality

On Jan. 14, 2014, a federal court of appeals struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order, which was designed to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or slowing users’ connections to online content. The court did not comment on the validity of these rules but simply said that the FCC had used the wrong legal foundation to justify them.

In response, on May 15 FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released flawed Internet rules that would have let ISPs charge content companies for priority treatment — relegating all other content to a slower tier of service.

Wheeler’s plan would have allowed telecom giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to pick winners and losers online and discriminate against online content and applications. And it would have destroyed the open Internet.

Without Net Neutrality, ISPs would be able to devise new schemes to charge users more for access and services, making it harder for us to communicate online — and easier for companies to censor our speech. The Internet could come to resemble cable TV, where gatekeepers exert control over where you go and what you see.

Without Net Neutrality, ISPs would be able to block content and speech they don’t like, reject apps that compete with their own offerings, and prioritize Web traffic (reserving the fastest loading speeds for the highest bidders and sticking everyone else with the slowest).

Free Press mobilized the public and political leaders to protest Wheeler’s proposal and urge the FCC to reclassify broadband access services under Title II of the Communications Act — which is the only way to protect real Net Neutrality.

Four million people — a record-breaking figure — submitted comments on the FCC’s plan, and more than 60 members of Congress spoke out. In November 2014, President Obama joined the call and urged Wheeler to reclassify under Title II.

On Feb. 4, Wheeler confirmed that he will use Title II to give Internet users the strongest protections possible. The full Commission approved his proposal on Feb. 26 — marking the biggest victory for the public interest in the FCC's history.

There have since been attempts in Congress and the courts to overturn these protections, and on May 13, 2015, Free Press filed a motion to intervene in the industry-backed court case challenging the rules. On June 14, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of the FCC’s Open Internet Order, marking a significant victory in the fight for everyone's rights to connect and communicate.

There will be other fights ahead. No matter what, the Internet must remain a forum for innovation and free expression. Open, affordable, fast and universal communications networks are essential to our individual, economic and political futures.

For our 101 on Net Neutrality, click here.

Blog Posts

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Press Releases

  • Senate Must Recognize That Proposed AT&T/Time Warner Merger Is Still a Rotten Deal

    December 7, 2016
    WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, CEOs Randall Stephenson of AT&T and Jeffrey Bewkes of Time Warner testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee about the proposed $107 billion merger of their two communications companies.
  • FCC Warns AT&T and Verizon That Data-Capping, Zero-Rating Programs Appear to Violate Net Neutrality

    December 2, 2016
    WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission sent letters urging AT&T and Verizon to explain why their programs favoring affiliated video services do not violate the agency’s Net Neutrality rules, which protect internet users against unreasonable discrimination by broadband providers.
  • Free Press Hails FCC's Landmark Broadband-Privacy Rules

    October 27, 2016
    WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt rules giving internet users more choice over whether and how broadband providers use private information. The rules passed on a 3–2 vote, with Chairman Tom Wheeler, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel voting for these strong but sensible privacy safeguards.
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News from Around the Web

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  • Broadband

    Access to high-speed internet service — also known as broadband — is a basic public necessity, just like water or electricity.

    Yet despite its importance, broadband access in the United States is far from universal. Millions of Americans still stand on the wrong side of the digital divide, unable to tap into the political, economic and social resources of the internet.

  • Cable

    Two decades ago, something unusual happened.

    Consumers were irate about their cable bills, which were increasing at nearly three times the rate of inflation. And Congress actually did something — adopting in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion the 1992 Cable Act. The law resulted in lower cable bills, saving consumers $3 billion in just over a year’s time.

  • Cybersecurity

    Our right to private communications is a cornerstone of American democracy. But with heightened awareness in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, technological advances have continued allowing the government to expand its reach into our private lives via electronic surveillance and data-mining programs. New laws and policies introduced in the last decade have eroded our civil liberties online.

    Congress has a poor track record when it comes to cybersecurity legislation. The bills introduced so far give the government way too much power to intrude on our privacy online.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good