Today the Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt “basic rules of the road to preserve the open Internet.”
On the face of it, the FCC’s intent is laudable. However, rules matter only when they are enforced. Unfortunately, in approving these open Internet rules, the FCC did little to ensure their enforcement.
Indeed, the FCC’s action today puts the burden of proof largely on citizens, small businesses, nonprofits and entrepreneurs who are most likely to be victimized by violations of open Internet rules.
Moreover, even when violations of these rules are identified, any enforcement action by the FCC will likely result in a legal challenge to the agency’s authority.
Last April’s federal appeals court decision, “Comcast v. FCC,” found that the FCC lacked the authority to enforce one of the most basic open Internet rules: nondiscriminatory treatment of network traffic.
While the FCC today waved the battle flag for preserving an open Internet, it did so while retreating from the battlefield.
Given the FCC’s failure to approve meaningful open Internet rules, the burden of continuing this struggle now shifts to citizens, communities, public-interest organizations, and business interests who understand that preserving an open Internet is the civil rights struggle of the 21st century.
Statements by other members of the national Media and Democracy Coalition are available online.