Keeping Up the Fight for Net Neutrality

In February the Federal Communications Commission approved historic rules to uphold net neutrality—the principle that your Internet service provider should let you access the web sites and apps you choose on an equal basis. That means your provider doesn’t play favorites among web sites, charging some for faster delivery of their content, while blocking or slowing down speeds for others.

The landmark FCC vote followed a massive outpouring of support from millions of people who wrote the Commission in favor of open Internet rules. Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, and other groups met with FCC officials to make the case for putting strong rules in place. The vote was a big win for consumers, and a defeat for telecommunications companies like Verizon and Comcast that had long lobbied against such rules.

However, as expected, the telecom industry is not giving up. The trade group US Telecom and other opponents have filed lawsuits to overturn the rules.

A federal appeals court is now preparing to consider these legal challenges. Consumers Union recently filed a brief to urge the court to reject the industry’s arguments and let the rules stand.

See how Consumer Reports is fighting to defend an open Internet. Also, check out our 2014 Net Neutrality Survey to see what consumers had to say about the topic. 

In the brief, Consumers Union wrote, “An open Internet promotes online innovation, competition, free expression, and infrastructure deployment, all of which greatly benefit consumers in the form of promoting more choice online, better affordability, greater Internet access speeds, and greater ability and freedom to communicate and receive information. A hallmark of the Internet has been that consumers could access all online services without interference from their Internet providers. These rules are an appropriate and well-suited means, clearly within the FCC’s authority, for ensuring the Internet remains open for everyone.”

The brief cites a June 2014 survey by Consumer Reports that found 58 percent of consumers agreed that “the government should not allow Internet service providers to charge companies to deliver their content with greater priority than other companies”; only 16 percent thought it was a good idea.

Dozens of other parties have filed their own briefs with the court in support of the FCC rules, including companies like Netflix and Dish Network, public interest organizations, and members of Congress. The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the lawsuits on December 4.

Consumers have already spoken out loud and clear. They want an open Internet. It’s not surprising that broadband companies are pulling out all the stops to try to get rid of the rules. But we are not backing down. The future of the Internet as we know it is at stake. The FCC did the right thing, it had the authority to do it, and we will keep fighting to defend it.

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