The Times, They're Not A-Changin': The Continuing Case for an Open Internet

1871 and the Benton Foundation
Monday, September 18, 2017
8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (Central Standard Time)

Tom Wheeler will ask a simple question: “What has happened in the past two years to justify a 180-degree reversal of Open Internet policy?” And his answer, “Nothing”. He will lay out the continuing case for an Open Internet, based on law and facts: protecting consumers and innovators; safeguarding free expression and economic opportunity; learning the lessons of the past; and anticipating the importance of future developments, like the Internet of Things.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under the leadership of Chairman Tom Wheeler (2013-2017), adopted, and then successfully defended in court, Open Internet rules to ensure that consumers are free to access and share the information and services of their choosing on the Internet. These net neutrality rules allow innovators and entrepreneurs to develop and distribute their products and services without asking for permission from Internet service providers (ISPs) who are now barred from blocking or impairing digital communications—or creating special "fast lanes" for content and services they own or favor.

The Wheeler FCC was the first to root Open Internet rules on the strongest legal framework, Title II of the Communications Act, giving the rules the solid legal foundation needed to ensure that broadband providers don’t use their gatekeeper power over pathways to the Internet to decide which Internet-based companies will succeed – and which will not.

But now, the President, the Congress, and the new FCC Chairman have proposed rolling back these Net Neutrality rules —and their fate will once again end up being decided by the strongest arguments in a court of law.