Public Interest Advocates Respond to Network Neutrality Decision

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Here’s how public interest advocates responded to the network neutrality ruling...

Gene Kimmelman, President and CEO of Public Knowledge: "Today, the Court of Appeals has affirmed the FCC's authority to protect consumers and innovation on the internet. This decision should lay to rest what has become a needlessly contentious issue. Now consumers will be assured the right to full access to the internet without interference from gatekeepers. We hope that rather than refight old battles, Congress and the industry will turn toward the problem of ensuring that all Americans have access to broadband that is 'fast, fair and open.'”

Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron: “Today’s ruling is a great victory for the millions and millions of internet users who have fought for years for Net Neutrality. They have fought to ensure that the FCC has the power to protect everyone’s right to connect and communicate online. The court upheld the agency’s clear authority to prevent internet service providers from unfairly interfering with our communications. It confirmed that this authority stands on bedrock communications law and recognized the vital role that the open internet plays in our society. Today’s ruling proves the FCC chose the correct legal path to protect internet users from discrimination by AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other broadband providers. The agency can now stay focused on safeguarding the open communications networks that power our democracy and our economy and on promoting broadband competition, privacy and affordable internet access for everyone. The people have spoken, the courts have spoken and this should be the last word on Net Neutrality. The companies and Congress should listen to the will of the people, follow the law and let the FCC do its job. But if and when opponents of the open internet try to take their case to Congress or the Supreme Court, we remain committed to continuing the fight alongside the millions of Americans who are dedicated to preserving an internet that’s open to everyone.”

George Slover, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, said, “This is a big win for consumers. The court upheld what net neutrality advocates have said since the beginning: the FCC has the clear authority to ensure that the Internet remains free and open for consumers. While we are thrilled about today’s victory, we know that opponents will keep up the fight in Congress and the courts, and we’ll keep fighting alongside the millions of consumers who have spoken out for net neutrality.” Slover said the FCC’s Open Internet rules are essential for consumers to be able to access the websites and apps they choose without their Internet service provider playing gatekeeper, charging some sites for special treatment, while other sites are saddled with slower speeds and second-class status. The FCC approved the rules in 2015 after nearly 4 million consumers wrote the Commission, overwhelmingly in favor of an open Internet.

Eric Null, policy counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute: "Contrary to the efforts of the Subcommittee, today’s hearing failed to undermine the FCC’s broadband privacy proposal. Opponents of the FCC’s proposal brought forth no new arguments—they merely relied on the same, weak refrain that has been repeated elsewhere. OTI hopes the FCC moves quickly to ensure this proposal becomes law."

Sari Feldman, president of the American Library Association, said, “The American Library Association hails the U.S. Court of Appeals decision today upholding the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order. America’s libraries collect, create and disseminate essential information to the public over the Internet. We also ensure our users are able to access the Internet and create and distribute their own digital content and applications. Keeping an open Internet—often referred to as ‘network neutrality’— is essential to meeting our mission in serving our communities. More than a year ago the FCC rightfully claimed its authority to protect against blocking or throttling of legal content, as well as to prevent paid prioritization of some Internet traffic over other traffic. We are pleased the Court has affirmed the FCC Order and sustained the strongest possible protections for equitable access to online information, applications and services for all."

"The internet has become our nation’s public square and with today’s ruling the court has affirmed that it must be open to everyone," said newly appointed Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn. "That is particularly important in this election year. Every American has a right to know who is behind all the political money trying to influence our government, and a right to access alternative forms of media to make informed votes. In upholding the FCC's open internet rules, the judges have ensured that the Internet Service Providers we rely on to deliver broadband to our homes and business cannot play gatekeeper by blocking access or establishing fast and slow lanes for the flow of information."

Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal: “This decision is a tremendous victory for free speech and democracy — and a huge setback for cable’s attempts to constrain online speech for private profit. Net Neutrality means that ordinary people, bloggers, artists, activists, small businesses, startups, and others will have as much right to share their ideas and creations with the world as do the biggest multinational corporations — and that rank-and-file Internet users will be able to access all of it. It means that those who have political opinions that challenge the status quo, and creators and startups who refuse to let cable companies shake them down for fees, won’t have to worry about being shunted off into ‘slow lanes’ that would prevent the world from learning about their views or engaging with their work. “But fights this important never end: The cable industry will keep looking for loopholes and nip at the rule’s edges — and the industry’s minions in Congress will keep trying legislate these rules away. “We’ll need to stay on guard, but today’s win is simply extraordinary — and the outpouring of activism that led to this victory makes it clear that we have the popular power to turn back attempts to undermine it.”

Michael Scurato, vice president of policy at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said, “The internet is a place where people of color can tell their own stories without a gatekeeper standing in the way. This court decision is a great victory for communities of color, who are consistently underrepresented and misrepresented in traditional media outlets. Having the unfettered ability for online expression, reaching new business markets, organizing across geographic boundaries and transforming public opinion is critical. Net neutrality opponents threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the FCC’s rules through this lawsuit, but the Court affirmed what we have known for some time: that the FCC’s process was beyond reproach and its reasoning was sound. This victory not only protects free expression for those already online, it affirms the FCC’s ability to modernize Lifeline for the digital age to help bring affordable broadband to the millions of Americans that do not currently have high speed internet access at home. Latino and African American families lag behind, and Lifeline modernization will empower those families to connect and participate in our increasingly digital society. We cannot achieve equality in the 21st century without universal, affordable and open internet access. Today’s decision brings us another step closer in that struggle.”

Writers Guild of America, West released the following: “WGAW applauds today’s D.C. Circuit Court decision to uphold the FCC’s rules for an Open Internet," the group said. "The years of hard work with our coalition partners have paid off. The reclassification of broadband Internet access service under Title II of the Communications Act is necessary to prohibit discriminatory and anticompetitive behavior on the part of Internet service providers that face little competition and hold tremendous gatekeeper power.”

“Today’s decision is a victory for consumers, free expression, and the core principles on which the internet was created. The Court made the right decision in affirming the FCC’s decision on reclassification of internet broadband services, providing the best path forward for advancement of consumer choice, access, and privacy rights,” said Lisa Hayes, Center for Democracy and Technology VP for programs and strategy.

Common Cause Hails Appeals Court Decision on Open Internet (Public Knowledge) Court Win Gives FCC the Power to Protect Net Neutrality (Free Press) Consumers Union praises federal court decision to uphold FCC’s net neutrality rules (Consumers Union) ALA applauds decision upholding net neutrality protections (ALA) Net Neutrality Advocates Take Victory Lap (B&C) Demand Progress celebrates win in Net Neutrality case Court Affirms FCC Authority to Safeguard Net Neutrality to Protect An Even Playing Field Online (NHMC) OTI Reaffirms Support for FCC’s Privacy Proposal As House Republicans’ Attempt to Undermine It Falls Flat (New America) Court Support for FCC Net Neutrality Rules Keeps Drawing Crowd (B&C - more support)