FCC Passes New Net Neutrality Rules, Awaits Expected Legal Challenges
Lawsuits based on the new rules are a certainty, which will continue to keep the issues alive in the courts, likely for years to come. Supporters had a very different take, including Courtney Young, the president of the American Library Association. "America's libraries collect, create and disseminate essential information to the public over the Internet, and ensure our users are able to access the Internet and create and distribute their own digital content and applications," Young said in a statement. "Network neutrality is essential to meeting our mission in serving America's communities. Today's FCC vote in favor of strong, enforceable net neutrality rules is a win for students, creators, researchers and learners of all ages." Anna Galland, the executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, in a statement today called the FCC decision "an unequivocal victory for the millions of Americans who came together to show that people power can trump the power of corporate giants like Comcast and Verizon. The plan released today is real Net Neutrality—by classifying the Internet as a public good using Title II, the FCC is using the simplest, most legally sound framework for protecting Internet users everywhere and maintaining the web as an equal playing field for all." Dennis Yang, the CEO of Udemy.com, an online learning vendor, said in a statement that he is "thrilled by today's vote by the FCC to support a free and open Internet. Net neutrality ensures Internet-based companies and ventures of all kinds will be able to compete, [which is] a profound benefit to society. Companies like Udemy are dependent upon the fastest possible Internet speeds to power a great experience for our users and we join the chorus of Americans congratulating the FCC on its decision to apply the same values that make America great to the Internet: liberty and fairness."The issue of net neutrality has been a hotbed for several years, with proponents and opponents arguing their positions and bashing the opposition verbally in public forums and discussions. In September 2014, the FCC announced that it had received a record 3 million comments about proposed rules for net neutrality by a Sept. 15 deadline. In November 2014, it appeared that Wheeler and President Obama had some differences of opinion about net neutrality, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Instead of Obama's more strongly worded proposal, Wheeler preferred a more subtle approach that would also address the concerns of the companies that provide Internet access to millions of Americans. Obama had earlier said that he wanted to see the FCC adopt Title II as a way to include ISPs in existing neutrality regulations. In October 2014, officials from AT&T, Comcast and Verizon told U.S. leaders that they do not plan to offer faster Internet access, or so-called "fast lanes," to content producers who are willing to pay more to get their messages out in front of competitors' transmissions, according to an earlier eWEEK story.
For months, the FCC's Wheeler had been talking publicly about the changes he envisioned for the Internet of the future, including improved regulation and controls that will ensure the freedom and openness of its operation and infrastructure for decades to come.