“We did it! The FCC just voted to stop the slow lane!”
This is good news. It’s amazing news.
“The stakes couldn’t have been higher. With so many websites based in the US, the future of the entire Internet hung in the balance.”
A year ago, the open internet looked doomed. The huge bully corporations that monopolize cable and wireless provision announce plans for a two-speed internet: fast for those who could pay, slow – very slow – for the rest of us.
The Federal Communications Commission, responsible for overseeing such things, is not noted for favouring public over corporate interests. Its current chair, Tom Wheeler, is a venture capitalist and former head lobbyist for both the cable and wireless industries, which worked hard behind closed doors and spent lavishly to ensure their stranglehold on the internet.
Erupting in May 2014, a small resistance grew quickly into a multi-faceted, finely coordinated international public campaign, eventually engaging more than 5 million people in protecting our internet. It worked.
On February 26 the FCC commissioners voted 3 – 2 (close, but good enough) to keep the internet open. The details are here (same story, two variations):
- FCC votes to protect the internet with Title II regulation. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, February 26, 2015.
- FCC votes for net neutrality, a ban on paid fast lanes, and Title II: Internet providers are now common carriers, and they’re ready to sue. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, Feb 26, 2015.
Outraged, the bully corps leapt immediately to sue the government, and right-wingers in the US Congress obediently set about sabotaging the historic ruling. Of course.
But still, for now, we can celebrate. This is a rare victory for open communication, equity and freedom of speech.
In Canada, OpenMedia.ca led the campaign, one of many on their docket. This small but formidable grassroots organization is independent, creative and vital.
For more on what’s at stake, check out Bold Scientists, chapter 6, The Cloud.