Well, it turns out that all the bellyaching and predictions of doom about the demise of net neutrality and the advent of “fast lanes” and all those assumptions about FCC Tom Wheeler being a cable-industry toady were wrong. For this morning the Federal Communications Commission did the right thing by voting 3 to 2 to regulate broadband internet service as a public utility, which is a major milestone and a blow for equal internet access and cause for dancing in the streets.
This is excellent news for everyone out there and easily one of the proudest accomplishments of the Obama administration. If David Carr was still with us he’d write a hell of a column about this. Sasha Stone owes Wheeler an apology.
The new rules ensure that no content will be blocked and that the net will not be divided “into pay-to-play fast lanes for big media companies that can afford it and slow lanes for everyone else…[which] are hallmarks of the net neutrality concept,” in the words of the N.Y. Times story. Wheeler said the F.C.C. was using “all the tools in our toolbox to protect innovators and consumers” and preserve the internet’s role as a “core of free expression and democratic principles.” He added that interest access was “too important to let broadband providers be the ones making the rules.”
The new rules will affect wired lines, smartphones and tablets. The order also includes provisions to protect consumer privacy and to ensure that internet service is available for people with disabilities and in remote areas. Chimes of freedom flashing.