Net Neutrality: We’re not dead yet

Evan Moloney and Heather Trono

The Internet as we know it just escaped destruction.

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 in favor of passing strong, Title-II Net Neutrality laws.

But this is bigger than a single federal bill, this is the biggest victory in Internet-freedom history.

Since before September of last year, a wide assortment of Washington policymakers and Internet activists have been working to protect something known as Net Neutrality.

Essentially, the principle states that Internet Service Providers (ISPs), like Time Warner Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp., cannot block websites or slow down your service, thereby holding it hostage until either you or the content provider pay a fee.

In a world without Net Neutrality, companies like Google, Netflix, and Amazon would be made to pay for access to consumers, a bill which these giant companies would have had to scramble to compensate.While these big-name corporations would have to rein in products and services, other, smaller companies would have been crushed without a chance.

And once the way is paved for these abuses, there would have been no going back. With ISPs in control of the Internet, the last thing they would do is give that control up. And had the bill been passed for direct Service Provider contact with consumers, the precedent would have been set for mandatory fees elsewhere.

But that didn’t happen.

On February 26, 2015, the FCC passed the strongest rules ever in support of Net Neutrality. After months of battle between ISPs and the second-biggest force of Internet protesters ever–numbering more than four million American citizens–the war is finally over.

The Net Neutrality verdict has been a hot issue as of late, as modern society begins to utilize the true potential of an Internet no one completely understands yet. The political debate has to do with government monitoring of a “private” domain like Internet service, with most right-wing lawmakers opposing neutrality and most left-wingers in favor. President Obama has made a practice of voicing his support for Title-II reclassification, having made statements and released videos strictly for the purpose of getting through to the FCC executives. And this debate has caused an enormous grassroots movement, with citizens ultimately responsible for effecting actual change in Washington.

However, there is still conflict. Comcast is lobbying Congress to stop the bill, but groups like FightForTheFuture and DemandProgress are shutting down that initiative with all due haste. And beyond that, ISPs are largely at the mercy of the American government.

A Title-II victory is here, and the Internet shall live on.

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