One year ago today, a federal appellate court struck down a set of rules, crafted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that were supposed to protect the open internet. That ruling, ironically enough and only after a huge effort from Internet users, may have finally set the FCC on the path toward new, better, and legally sustainable neutrality rules. To stay on that path, though, we need your help.
Let’s take a look at how far we've come. It starts with an important, if complicated, legal problem. Many folks who support net neutrality, including EFF, have been worried that the FCC did not have firm legal authority to issue meaningful open internet rules. After a lengthy legal challenge to the last set of such rules (adopted in 2010), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals came to the same conclusion, explaining that the FCC can’t impose “common carrier”-type rules on ISPs without actually classifying them a “common carriers.” Having chosen to classify them instead as “information services” back in 2004, the FCC had to go back to the drawing board.
That led to a new FCC proposal, based on the same flawed legal theory, that, if adopted, would actively undermine the open Internet in the name of protecting it.
A broad coalition of folks, including EFF, concluded that part of our strategy for fostering net neutrality should be to help the FCC get things right. After all, ISP behavior was getting worse, consumers have fewer options for voting with their wallets, and the FCC seemed determined to regulate one way or another. So we suggested the FCC should reverse its 2004 decision, reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, and issue new, targeted guidelines that would survive court scrutiny. In the meantime word spread about the risk to the open Internet, and more and more people started to speak out on the issue—even late night comedians. And in November President Obama joined us.
We are cautiously optimistic that Chairman Wheeler finally heard us, and that we will see a new and better open internet proposal next month. But we need to keep the pressure on to counter the misinformation campaigns many telecoms are mounting inside and outside of the beltway.
That’s where you come in. Today, a broad coalition of public interest groups are joining forces to make sure Congress doesn’t derail good net neutrality rules. Please join us, and take action today to help protect the open Internet.