Our indiscriminate access to the web has been defended. We can continue to be who we are online without the ambiguous shackles of Internet Service Providers (ISP). We can thank the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for a 2 to 1 decision in upholding the doctrine that is net neutrality.
It all began almost a decade ago when the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) aimed to conserve network speeds and equal access for all consumers on the web by accosting Comcast for arbitrarily blocking BitTorrent. An action that led to a set of regulations in 2010 against ISPs, which were then legally disputed because the internet was classified as “information services,” which was technically not under the FCC’s jurisdiction. Therefore after a public rally for reclassification, the FCC voted to classify the internet as “telecommunications,” in 2015.
President Obama in 2014 urging the FCC for the push for reclassification:
Tom Wheeler, chairman of the F.C.C., states the significance of this latest news,
After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections — both on fixed and mobile networks — that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future.
In agreement with the FCC, the federal government now acknowledges the internet as a utility—which severely affects the argument regurgitated by ISPs. This is because the US government believes “utilities” must be a service accessible to all Americans, contrary to the belief of ISPs that believe the internet is a “luxury,” a service that doesn’t need careful regulation by the government.
As you can imagine this has set off a maelstrom in the offices of Verizon, AT&T, and other ISPs that will not back down just yet. In fact, executives at AT&T have already gone on record claiming that the company will make an appeal to the supreme court.
It’s evident that ISPs are not prepared to relinquish their autonomy as service providers until the very last legal document is read, argued, and stamped. With that, let’s enjoy the fact that there’s no premium charge on our internet bill to stream Netflix—as the future of the internet looks free for now.
If you have a few minutes, definitely check out this excellent commentary on Net Neutrality by comedian John Oliver that set off a petition that was signed by 4 million people: