FCC Approves Net Neutrality


Obama thanked Redditors with the above handwritten letter, and the president also posted a celebratory tweet:

The Federal Communications Commission approved a net-neutrality policy last Thursday, which bars Internet service providers from controlling broadband speeds based off payment.

“This decision is pro broadband. This decision is pro competition,” said FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, at Thursday’s meeting.  “This decision is for the right of Americans through their elected local officials to make their own decisions about their broadband future.”

Under the new policy, which the FCC approved in a 3-2 vote, high-speed Internet service is now classified as a telecommunications service.

This classification, rooted in Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, provides the FCC with the authority to bar Internet providers from charging more for higher connection speeds. Essentially, all data is treated equally—providing what Wheeler referred to as “free open access to the Internet.”

There has been much debate surrounding the concept of net neutrality since President Obama called for a “free and open Internet” in 2007.

In December, 2010, the FCC passed the first net neutrality regulation, which was subsequently overturned in January after Verizon Communications filed a federal lawsuit against the commission.

Much of the dialogue on net neutrality has arisen from social media and platforms such as Reddit. According a letter issued by the White House, more than 4 million people wrote to the FCC, voicing their support for net neutrality.

Following yesterday’s vote, President Obama also wrote a handwritten letter to Reddit users stating, “Thanks Redditors! Wish I could upvote every one of you for helping keep the Internet open and free!”

The legislation, however, has also been met with criticism.

Just before the vote, according to the New York Times, Republicans “delivered a scathing critique of the order as overly broad, vague and unnecessary.

In an Op-Ed, Mark Hendrickson, a contributor at Forbes, wrote, “The FCC has bitten off more than it can chew. Its task will be somewhat comparable to that of the old Soviet price-setting bureaucracy.”

According to the Times, “Lawsuits to challenge the commission’s order are widely expected.”