How do we ensure that Internet service providers enable access to all lawful content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites? In other words, how do we ensure the internet remains open and accessible, as originally designed?
This is no small question. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis noted that the founders of this nation “believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth.” But, simply put, in today’s world there is no ability to “speak as you think” without the internet. Broadband networks are the pipelines that bring content to and from individuals every day. Ideas can’t spread, debate can’t happen, without the use of broadband networks. The world of ideas rides on top of fiber and copper and through the airwaves.
Control of those connections is a public-policy question of prime importance. For over a decade the Federal Communications Commission – under both Democratic and Republican chairmen – has made plain that the open internet will not remain open without collective action on behalf of consumers and innovators. That policy has its genesis in the decades-old understanding that big networks should not be able to act as gatekeepers deciding what information flows to and from people.