The Comment Period Is Over, But the Battle for Net Neutrality Ain't Done Yet

Source: Motherboard
Author: Sam Gustin
Coverage Type: analysis
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States

The reason why network neutrality is so important—and why this issue remains so fiercely contested—is that it amounts to the free speech principle for the internet. This open access concept is absolutely essential, net neutrality advocates argue, because the entire US economy—and indeed society—is now deeply rooted in internet connectivity. More than that, net neutrality ensures that US democracy will continue to thrive by allowing all voices—even unpopular ones—to be heard. "Net neutrality is what democracy looks like," said Winnie Wong, a veteran political activist involved in Occupy Wall Street, People For Bernie, and the Women's March on Washington. "Without it we can't tell the story of the struggle for social justice. If the government empowers corporate monopolies to dictate how and what we can share online, we'll never be able to advance our vision of racial justice, climate action, and economic equality." With so much at stake, US faith leaders are also getting involved. "An open internet is vital for our organizing efforts here in North Carolina, and around the country," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, a leading national justice organizer and President of Repairers of the Breach.

Facing such strong public opposition to his net neutrality rollback, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai may punt the issue to Congress, which is actually what the nation's largest ISPs want. The broadband industry's real goal, according to many tech policy experts, is to move this battle to the Republican-led US Congress, where deep-pocketed ISPs can lobby to craft internet policy rules that favor themselves. If the ISPs are successful, look for a spirited net neutrality debate this fall featuring Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). This fight is far from over.



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