There’s good news: the nationwide outcry against the Federal Communications Commission’s troublesome proposal for new Open Internet rules is clearly having an impact. At a public meeting this morning, commissioners were factoring in questions that—according to previous accounts—weren’t on the table only days ago. The bad news: the FCC still is considering a set of rules that will allow Internet providers to discriminate how we access websites with only vague and uncertain limits, endangering network neutrality and threatening the vibrant growth of the Internet.
We’re still waiting for the full proposal. But according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s statements at the open meeting, the FCC didn't take pay-to-play "fast lanes" off the table. Paid “fast lane” access fees threaten the engine of innovation that has allowed hackers, startup companies, and kids in their college dorm rooms to make the Internet that we know and love today. We want the Internet to continue to thrive as a platform for innovation and expression; vague rules that bless "pay to play," with ill-defined limits, are not compatible with our vision of an open Internet.
We are encouraged that the FCC is continuing to push for greater transparency. Internet users and innovators cannot protect themselves if they can't scrutinize how their ISP handles their traffic. Without knowledge of how ISPs are operating and maintaining their network architecture, enforcement of any network neutrality rules will be hollow. New forms of discrimination may surface to circumvent regulatory or public responsibility, unbeknownst to users and the FCC alike.
Today was an important day in the fight for net neutrality, but this battle is far from won. The FCC announced plans to open an extended four-month public comment window to solicit the stories from people across the country about the agency’s proposed open Internet rules. Internet users must take this opportunity to speak up, early, and often.
We’ve created a tool to help. Visit www.DearFCC.org to raise your voice and make sure the FCC is clear on this point: we don’t want regulations that will turn ISPs into gatekeepers to their subscribers. It’s time to protect our Internet.