FCC Wins a Battle for Net Neutrality, But the War Isn’t Over Yet

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The FCC has been trying for years to put in place rules that would ensure net neutrality. After some setbacks in court, they changed tack last year, reclassifying broadband internet service as a public utility. This legally allowed them to implement the rules necessary for net neutrality.

Naturally, broadband suppliers like Verizon and AT&T cried foul. They’d prefer to be left alone to do whatever they want. Today, though, the FCC won:

High-speed internet service can be defined as a utility, a federal court has ruled, a decision clearing the way for more rigorous policing of broadband providers and greater protections for web users….The court’s ruling was a slam-dunk for the F.C.C. The panel of three judges who heard the case late last year agreed that wireless broadband services were also common carrier utility services subject to anti-blocking and discrimination rules, a decision protested by wireless carriers including AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

Roughly speaking, there are three ways we could attack the problem of net neutrality. In order of preference, they are:

  1. Encourage more broadband competition.
  2. Pass legislation.
  3. Let the FCC do the job.

Option #1 is hard. Local cable companies are almost always monopolies, and there’s not much hope of seeing that change on a broad scale. Option #2 is very feasible, but Republicans simply have no desire to regulate the cable industry in any way. They talk about compromise a lot, but they never follow through and they probably never will. So that leaves Option #3. It’s the worst of the bunch, but it’s better than nothing. So three cheers for the DC Circuit Court. Now we just have to wait and see if the Supreme Court backs them up.

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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