Republican extremist congresshacks vow to fight the ruling that only 15% of their voting base opposes. Because freedom!
The Federal Communications Commission approved strict new rules for Internet providers Thursday in a historic vote that represents the government's most aggressive attempt to make sure the Web remains a level playing field.
The rules would dramatically expand the agency's oversight of the country's high-speed broadband providers, regulating them like a public utility. They were adopted by a 3-to-2 margin with the commission's Republican members voting against them.
Under the rules, it will be illegal for companies such as Verizon or Cox Communications to slow down streaming videos, games and other online content traveling over their networks. They also will be prohibited from establishing "fast lanes" that speed up access to Web sites that pay an extra fee. And in an unprecedented move, the FCC could apply the rules to wireless carriers, such as T-Mobile and Sprint, in a nod to the rapid rise of smartphones and the mobile Internet.
“This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “They both stand for the same concept: openness, expression and an absence of gatekeepers telling them what they can do, where they can go and what they can think.”
The proposed regulations reflect more than a year of deliberation by the FCC and a surprising turnaround by Wheeler, a former cable industry lobbyist, who had initially supported a proposal that was much friendlier to Internet providers. It's also a significant victory for consumer advocates, grass-roots organizers, Internet companies and Democrats, all of whom spent months pressing for what President Obama called "the strongest possible rules" on net neutrality.
"Providers here in the United States have in fact blocked applications on mobile devices, which not only hampers free expression but also restricts competition and innovation by allowing companies, not the consumer, to pick winners and losers," said Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.
Internet providers have signaled that they are likely to challenge the rules in court, while conservative lawmakers have slammed them as a government takeover of the Internet and vowed to overturn them.
The war against consumers will, of course, continue. A reminder: Title II is the same regulation under which your local cable and fiber providers claim right-of-way to install their wires.