When the FCC opened the floor to comments from the public on the issue of Net Neutrality, they probably didn’t bank on such a great response.
But in the five-month commenting period, the commission received 3.7 million comments – and analysis of the first 80,000 comments by the Sunlight Foundation suggested that two thirds of responses supported a reclassification of broadband as a utility, thus subjecting it to stricter regulations.
In short, most people seem to want Net Neutrality to survive.
At the beginning of this year, a federal court ruled that the FCC had no authority to impose its Open Internet rules; guidelines that ensured all content on the web was equally accessible. Since 2011, the rules had prevented cable companies and other ISPs from giving some web traffic preference over other traffic. With these rules struck down, Net Neutrality was suddenly thrown into doubt.
The FCC’s response was to suggest a new set of rules that complied with the court ruling – however, it is these very rules that are so controversial today. The new proposal would allow cable companies and ISPs to create so-called “fast lanes”, allowing companies like Disney and Google to pay more and have their content seen quickest. This would create a very obvious two-tier internet, and would, according to critics, ruin the web as we know it.
But the question is – will 3.7 million voices make a difference?
FCC members are currently busy answering questions from Congress, meeting with Net Neutrality supporters and testifying to the House, but the commission has indicated that it will approve a proposal before the end of the year.
With such names as House leader Nancy Pelosi on board and pushing for reclassification of broadband as a utility, it seems that reclassification is the best chance to maintain Net Neutrality – but you better believe that Verizon and Comcast will block such a move at every available level.
Here at SurfEasy we strongly believe in a free and open internet. We believe that Net Neutrality preserves innovation and fosters creativity. We believe that maintaining a fair and accessible web is integral to the wellbeing of societies the world over – and we’re thrilled that so many others believe in it too.
Whichever way the debate goes, one thing is for sure; that’s one hell of a loud voice calling for Net Neutrality to be saved.