Our Day in Court

Benton Foundation

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Digital Beat

Our Day in Court

Adrianne B. Furniss

Andrew Jay Schwartzman

On February 1, 2019, the Benton Foundation joins a host of public interest organizations, states, and businesses that are arguing that the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit should overturn the December 2017 Federal Communications Commission order that eliminated strong, enforceable net neutrality rules.



No one argues that widespread use of the internet has changed the ways we live, play, work, learn, and speak. Businesses reach customers, patients visit doctors, teachers instruct students, farmers grow food, candidates run for office -- all using the internet.

As vast as the internet’s uses – and users – are, for each of us our access to the global network of networks comes down to the practices of the companies that offer us broadband internet access service. Benton’s efforts in court hope to ensure the rights of internet users to employ any legal applications, content, devices, and services of their choosing on the broadband networks they rely on. We want to make sure that the internet remains a non-discriminatory platform for all consumers, content creators, and innovators, regardless of their ability to pay infrastructure owners special fees for special access. For us, these are the qualities that make the internet the internet as we know it.

An internet without net neutrality is a threat to free speech and democratic participation online. Without net neutrality protections, broadband providers are free to interfere with lawful content and services.

An internet without net neutrality will stifle innovation. Broadband providers will be able to favor their own content and services over that of other speakers and impede new services from ever getting a chance to enter the marketplace

An internet without net neutrality will hurt small businesses most as broadband providers impose fees for priority access to their customers.

It’s not just about the breadth of opportunities the internet can deliver, or how swiftly we can grow our economy. Fundamentally, the future of net neutrality is about the future of our democracy and what we as a society are able to achieve together.

We will continue to fight for it.

Adrianne B. Furniss is the Executive Director of the Benton Foundation.

Andrew Jay Schwartzman is the Benton Senior Counselor at the Public Interest Communications Law Project at Georgetown University Law Center's Institute for Public Representation (IPR).

Benton, a non-profit, operating foundation, believes that communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities to bridge our divides. Our goal is to bring open, affordable, high-capacity broadband to all people in the U.S. to ensure a thriving democracy.

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Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Foundation
727 Chicago Avenue
Evanston, IL 60202
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By Adrianne B. Furniss.
By Andrew Jay Schwartzman.