FCC’s Net Neutrality Shift a Victory for Open Internet & Grassroots Activism Against Cable Giants

07.02.2015 - Democracy Now!

After much anticipation, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission has unveiled what he calls “the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the [agency].” Tom Wheeler backed the regulation of Internet service like a public utility in order to uphold net neutrality, the principle of a free and open Internet. The new rules would prevent Internet service providers like Comcast from blocking access to websites, slowing down content, or providing paid fast lanes for Internet service. It would also extend such protections to Internet service on cell phones and tablets. The proposal comes after the FCC received a record-setting number of public comments — nearly four million, almost all in support of strong protections. President Obama also released public statements in support of Internet protections. The FCC will vote on the plan February 26, ahead of an influx of lobbying by the telecom industry, which has also threatened to sue if the measure passes. We are joined by Tim Karr, senior director of strategy for Free Press, one of the main organizers of the Internet Countdown campaign leading up to the FCC’s net neutrality vote.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: After much anticipation, this week the chair of the Federal Communications Commission unveiled what he calls, quote, “the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the [agency].” In a blog post published Wednesday on the website of Wired magazine, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler backed the regulation of Internet service like a public utility to uphold net neutrality, the principle of a free and open Internet. Noting he used to think that the FCC could assure Internet openness through a determination of commercial reasonableness, Wheeler wrote, quote, “While a recent court decision seemed to draw a roadmap for using this approach, I became concerned that this relatively new concept might, down the road, be interpreted to mean what is reasonable for commercial interests, not consumers. That is why I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections.”

AMY GOODMAN: Wheeler’s plan will let the agency prevent Internet service providers like Comcast from blocking access to websites, slowing down content or providing paid fast lanes for Internet service. It would also extend such protections to Internet service on cellphones and tablets. Wheeler discussed the plan on PBS NewsHour.

TOM WHEELER: What we’re doing is we’re taking the legal construct that once was used for phone companies and paring it back to modernize it so it specifically deals with this issue. So it’s not really utility regulation, but it is regulation to make sure that there is somebody watching out for the consumer, that, like you said, there’s no paid prioritization, there’s no blocking, there’s no throttling. And, most important, there will be ongoing rules, in perpetuity, so that there will be a yardstick to measure what’s fair for consumers.

Read the full transcript at Democracy Now! 

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