The Widdershins

Activist Monday: Victory for Net Neutrality

Posted on: March 2, 2015

Good Monday, Widdershins! Thanks to the FCC’s finally making a decision, telecom giants won’t be able to control which Internet sites load quickly and which ones load slowly – they will need to remain neutral. (They’ll still be able to charge a ridiculous amount of money for us to use Senator Ted Stephens’ “Series of Tubes” – but that’s beside the point.) And why did this happen? Because of activism – some of which may have included you. If so, well-done!

The chain of events leading to yesterday’s vote began when a federal appeals court in D.C. struck down existing net-neutrality rules in 2014 and the FCC began to consider whether broadband companies should be able to charge websites for better access, among other changes coveted by that industry.

The FCC opened up the debate over these possible changes to the public, and the agency was flooded with millions of public comments being filed — taking the telecommunications outrage record from those who complained about Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction in 2004. The Sunlight Foundation analyzed the comments and found that a majority seemed to support net neutrality.

The Sunlight Foundation’s analysis was scientific enough to determine that about 80% of the comments from the second round, released in October, were form letters submitted by the Koch brothers’ foundation American Commitment. Despite this phishing, the FCC voted the right way on this one.

Surprisingly, President Obama’s affinity with big business in general, he’s also been supportive of net neutrality. He even gave credit where credit was due.

After the commenting period closed, President Obama — who is on the record in support of net neutrality since at least 2007 — weighed in with a pro-net neutrality statement and mentioned that the FCC should listen to what the public was telling them. On Thursday, he tweeted about the FCC’s decision, again calling attention to the activists: “That’s the power of millions making their voices heard.” He also sent a note to Reddit congratulating the efforts of its users: “Earlier today, the FCC voted to protect a free and open internet — the kind of internet that allows entrepreneurs to thrive and debates over duck-sized horses and horse-sized ducks to persist.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted yesterday that the new rules were “in line and consistent with the position that the President had articulated last November.”

What does it mean for you and me? Per CNet, not a heck of a lot will change – it just means that whatever access speed we expect, we will continue to get for all sites. In other words, when we pay for fast access, your sites load quickly. If our corporate Interwebz overlords had had their way, we would have no way of guaranteeing access speed, no matter what we did individually. Each website would have to pay for load speed in tiers…and if the site owners weren’t rich enough to afford the high-speed tier (like many liberal and left-leaning organizations out there), then TS! Any guesses about how quickly this would skew web traffic to larger, corporate-owned outlets…the chilling effect it would have on free speech online? And knowing this, is it any wonder that there was so much pressure from big business to defeat Net Neutrality? Evil bastards.

I think we can all feel good about how this one went, Widdershins. It’s an outcome that Leonard Nimoy, whom we tragically lost to CPD on Friday, would have approved of most heartily. May free speech online continue to live long and prosper.

This is an open thread.


18 Responses to "Activist Monday: Victory for Net Neutrality"

I sure signed enough of the petitions and comments forms to the FCC from our friends on the left so I’m glad they made this decision. In addition they also did another thing which may eventually help us all to get “better” internet through our local municipalities.

Before it tackles net neutrality, the FCC is setting a major precedent for municipal broadband: it’s just voted to preempt state laws that were preventing two cities from building out their own locally run broadband networks. The decision was prompted by separate petitions from Wilson, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee — both cities that’ve established high-speed, gigabit internet services, but have been barred from expanding to neighboring communities due to existing state laws. So far, 19 states have similar regulations to those that the FCC is overriding in Wilson and Chattanooga, but today’s ruling affects only those two specific cases.

Even so, the FCC’s 3-2 vote will serve as a landmark moment that other communities will point to as they try to compete against commercial ISPs and knock down those deeply restrictive state laws. “There are a few irrefutable truths about broadband,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler ahead of the vote. “One is you can’t say you’re for broadband, and then turn around and endorse limits.” The commission has decided that Tennessee and North Carolina are needlessly preventing the “reasonable and timely deployment of high-speed internet access to all Americans,” a senior FCC official said during a press call a few weeks ago. It’s not hard to see the exact same logic being applied elsewhere when other petitions are brought forward.


Can you imagine a gigabit connection for $70/month?

There are small, sweet victories along the way. Since many telephones (such as mine) are VoIP, this should be regulated as a utility.

Well done, Fredster! Chat, good point. I h ave VOIP too…never thought of it as a utility.

Telephones are a utility if they come from Ma Bell. Why should these guys get a free pass?

So Hillary Clinton used a personal email account while she was Secretary of State. Is that illegal; if it isn’t, shut the fuck up!
Now, the artist who painted Bill Clinton’s official portrait confesses that he was obsessed with the Lewinsky imbroglio, so much so that he painted in a blue dress shadow. What a dick move; why now?
Those of you who have so many doubts about Hillary need to ask yourselves why the malefactors of great wealth are moving heaven and earth to kneecap her.

chat@4: Good point!

@MB: And you can believe that in those states where they are trying to block municipalities from offering fiber optic, that the legislators in those states have gotten some nice contributions from AT&T, Verizon and the like.

@5: Isn’t the timing on all of this just soooo interesting? Snort!

@5 and 8: Next we’ll be concerned if she double parked or jaywalked.

And don’t forget those overdue library books.

@9 and 10: BENGHAZI!!!


ooohhh – that’s great.

@chat: Oh, you mean the tweet pic?


Okay, one bad word in here. We’ll live.

@17: Good on for Media Matters! AS a commenter at HuffPo said, “you cannot break a law that was not in place at the time.

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