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October 26, 2014
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editorial

An Internet open to all; The fight for net neutrality


Then in 2010, in response to complaints that some broadband service providers were “throttling,” i.e. slowing down some Internet traffic (www.macworld.com/article/1135381/comcast.html), the FCC issued an Open Internet Order (www.fcc.gov/openinternet) calling for net neutrality, stopping short, however, of defining broadband as providing common carrier services. Verizon challenged the FCC’s open Internet rules, and on January 14, 2014, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the commission’s Open Internet Order on the basis that the commission had exercised its authority inconsistently with its own prior decisions (classifying broadband as information services) and was now seeking to treat broadband providers more like common carriers. The court, however, did uphold the FCC’s authority to make rules governing broadband providers’ treatment of Internet traffic.

Two weeks ago, in response to the appeals court’s ruling, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he would ask the commission to try again to write rules for net neutrality, and on February 19, 2014 the FCC asked for public comment on the issue. [Editor’s note: To comment, go to apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/upload/display?z=nvb8o and enter “14-28” as the “proceeding number.” In the “details” sub-section, “type of filing” box, all you need is the word “COMMENT;” leave the other boxes in that section blank.] The deadline for public comment is March 18.

We at The River Reporter believe that without net neutrality the Verizons, AT&Ts and Comcasts of the world will give preferential treatment to the Amazons, Netflix, Facebooks and Googles of the world, relegating the rest of us—small and startup websites, underfunded non-profit organizations’ websites, those using peer-to-peer (P2P) communications and all of us users—to the slow lanes on the high-speed Internet highway.

This week, we plan to submit a comment to the FCC, and we urge our readers to do the same. We will ask the commissioners to stand up for all consumers of Internet information by writing new rules that, while addressing the appeals court’s concerns, will save net neutrality. The FCC, which has the power to revisit and reconsider its prior decisions, must assert its rightful authority over our nation’s communications infrastructure. Short of reclassifying broadband as a common carrier, the FCC must impose non-discrimination and anti-blocking regulations under the authority it already has.