Love or hate the Federal Communications Commission's rules governing the open internet, people aren't keeping quiet about it.
For more than a decade, the issue of net neutrality, or the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally, has pitted the broadband and internet industries against consumer advocates, who have called on the government to enact rules to make sure the open internet is protected.
On Tuesday, the FCC scored a major legal victory when the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the FCC's rules and the agency's contention that it had the authority to reclassify broadband as a public utility in order to craft the new rules. This brings us one step closer to a final resolution.
Regardless, there remains sharp disagreement over whether the FCC should be allowed to change the classification of broadband. Supporters, who include President Barack Obama and Google, say reclassification was necessary to protect the rules from future legal threats. But detractors, including Comcast and Verizon, argue that regulating broadband and wireless networks under the same framework as the old telephone network will stifle innovation and lead to rate hikes.
Here are some of the things people have been saying about the decision.
Senate Democrats applaud the decision
US Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee:
"I am pleased that the court upheld the important open internet protections that the FCC put into place last year. This is a significant milestone for consumer protections on the internet."
US Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and House author of the 1996 Telecommunications Act:
"Today's court decision makes clear that net neutrality is here to stay. The court decision affirms what we already know to be true, that the FCC has the power to classify broadband internet access service according to its best and current understanding of the technology, and how consumers harness that technology. The battle for net neutrality is the battle for our online future, and today's ruling is a victory for consumers, innovators, entrepreneurs and anyone who counts on the internet to connect to the world. This decision celebrates the free and democratic expression of ideas that is the hallmark of our online ecosystem. Protecting net neutrality ensures that the best ideas, and not merely the best-funded ideas, will rule the day."
US Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet:
"This court ruling is a victory for consumers and American innovation. These rules are tech neutral and provide clear regulatory guidance for industry while preserving the FCC's authority to prevent forms of discrimination that threaten the openness and freedom of the internet. This sets a framework for a variety of important consumer issues, and I look forward to working with stakeholders and the FCC on matters such as zero rating."
US Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), one of Congress' most vocal advocates of net neutrality.
"Today's decision upholding net neutrality is an enormous victory for consumers, for businesses and startups and ultimately for the innovation that has helped drive our modern economy. Net neutrality has been part of the architecture of the internet since the very beginning -- and as we've seen for the past several decades, a free and open internet has been a tremendous engine for innovation and economic growth. That growth hasn't just happened while we've had net neutrality in place -- it's happened because of net neutrality."
Senate Republicans denounce it
US Sen. John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee:
"Today's 2-1 court ruling upholding the FCC's partisan decision to saddle the internet with restrictions designed for the monopoly telephone era says more about our outdated telecommunications laws than anything else. Rather than providing internet users and companies alike with the regulatory certainty they need to thrive, we instead now have a highly political agency micromanaging the internet ecosystem. Today's decision is a clear signal that my colleagues and I need to reestablish Congress' appropriate role in setting communications policy on a bipartisan basis. As Judge Williams warns in his dissent, by 'shunt[ing] broadband service onto the legal track suited to natural monopolies,' the FCC's order may actually foster 'the prevalence of incurable monopoly.' Congress must not allow that to happen."
US Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet:
"The Court's ruling does not change the fact that the so-called 'open internet' rules are unnecessary and costly. Applying decades-old Title II regulations to modern technologies adds uncertainty to the marketplace and stifles innovation. I am hopeful that the decision will be appealed and overturned."
From the FCC
The three Democrats on the FCC applaud the court's decision
"Today's ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators, who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth. 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."
"Today's DC Circuit court decision represents a resounding victory for the American people. The commission relied on a voluminous record, which included more than 4 million comments, and demonstrated that a free and open internet is at the very heart of our American democracy. I am particularly pleased that the court upheld protections for mobile consumers, something for which I fought mightily during the lead-up to the commission's vote last year. The court's validation of that position makes clear that no matter how one accesses the internet, it will remain an open platform that enables free speech, freedom of expression and innovation to flourish."
"The internet is the most dynamic platform for free speech ever invented, and our internet economy is the envy of the world. Today's decision supports internet principles of fairness and openness -- the principles that keep us innovative, fierce and creative."
The two Republican commissioners are critical
"I am deeply disappointed by the DC Circuit's 2-1 decision upholding the FCC's internet regulations. For many of the reasons set forth in Judge Williams' compelling dissent, I continue to believe that these regulations are unlawful, and I hope that the parties challenging them will continue the legal fight. The FCC's regulations are unnecessary and counterproductive."
"The DC Circuit's decision is more than disappointing, but I expect it to be appealed to the US Supreme Court, so this opinion is not necessarily the final say. If allowed to stand, however, today's decision will be extremely detrimental to the future of the internet and all consumers and businesses that use it. We all will rue the day the Commission was confirmed to have nearly unmitigated power over the internet -- and all based on unsubstantiated, imaginary "harms."
Companies and groups that supported net neutrality praise the court and declare victory for consumers
Gene Kimmelman, president and CEO of Public Knowledge:
"Today, the court of appeals has affirmed the FCC's authority to protect consumers and innovation on the internet. This decision should lay to rest what has become a needlessly contentious issue. Now consumers will be assured the right to full access to the internet without interference from gatekeepers. We hope that rather than refight old battles, Congress and the industry will turn toward the problem of ensuring that all Americans have access to broadband that is 'fast, fair and open.'"
"The DC Circuit's decision is the culmination of nearly 14 years of thought, advocacy and lawyering by an enormous number of people, including millions of citizens who weighed in at the end. I feel strongly that the court has done the right thing to preserve the economic and social benefits of open networks for future generations."
Michal Rosenn, general counsel for Kickstarter:
"We're thrilled the court has upheld the FCC's net neutrality rules protecting a free and open internet. Together with our community, the White House and a diverse group of tireless advocates, we fought for rules that would preserve equal access for everyone and maintain the internet as a place for a free and open exchange of ideas. Today's decision is a decisive victory for these key principles of equality, and all internet users are better off for it."
Netflix was especially happy with the court upholding the FCC's ability to intervene in commercial disputes between network operators:
"Today's appeals court decision underscores what's possible when millions of consumers unite to be heard and government officials listen. By upholding all parts of the FCC's net neutrality approach, the appeals court settled two decades of debate and legal uncertainty by ensuring the internet remains open to all. The court went out of its way to define interconnection as a central part of net neutrality, ensuring that providers like Netflix will be able to reach consumers without ISP interference. Now the FCC has clear authority to hold ISPs to these openness rules and turn its attention to policies that support an affordable, faster internet."
Those who have opposed the FCC's net neutrality regulation voice concern over the decision and vow to take their fight to the US Supreme Court
Cable-industry lobbying group the NCTA, wireless-industry group the CTIA, and AT&T were among those who filed suit against the FCC over the rules.
"We are reviewing today's split decision by the DC circuit panel and will carefully review the majority and dissenting opinions before determining next steps. Though disappointed in today's result, we are particularly gratified by Judge Williams' recognition of the 'watery thin and self-contradictory' nature of the FCC arguments used to justify the imposition of common carriage laws on internet networks. While this is unlikely the last step in this decade-long debate over internet regulation, we urge bipartisan leaders in Congress to renew their efforts to craft meaningful legislation that can end ongoing uncertainty, promote network investment, and protect consumers."
David McAtee, AT&T senior executive vice president and general counsel:
"We have always expected this issue to be decided by the Supreme Court, and we look forward to participating in that appeal."
CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker:
"The wireless industry remains committed to preserving an open internet and will pursue judicial and congressional options to ensure a regulatory framework that provides certainty for consumers, investors and innovators. For the US to remain the global mobile leader, we need rules that help promote consumer access to 5G and the internet of things without subjecting the wireless industry to investment-chilling public utility regulation. In the interim, we urge the FCC to support innovative new services, like free data, that benefit consumers and reflect the highly competitive mobile market."
Robert D. Atkinson, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) president:
"Today's opinion is disappointing. We hope the Supreme Court or Congress will now put us back on the right track. As it stands, we are dooming ourselves to stagnant, one-size-fits-all networks.
"Congress should clarify this outdated area of law with balanced rules that allow innovation to drive us toward optimal network performance while giving the FCC the tools it needs to see that an open internet continues to thrive. When it comes to net neutrality, we don't want the "strongest possible" rules. Instead, flexible guidelines and ongoing oversight would allow us to enjoy the benefits of good traffic differentiation while preventing practices that are anticompetitive or would otherwise legitimately harm the open Internet."
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