Public Outcry over Comcast Ruling Reaches the FCC

The public outrage over last week's appeals court decision against an open Internet reached Washington this week.

People are doing all they can to stop a decision that would effectively give phone and cable companies power to control Internet content and undermine the open architecture that has transformed the Web into a democratic force in society.

The reaction has been swift, with more than one hundred thousand people contacting Washington since the court issued its ruling for Comcast and against the FCC’s ability to protect our online rights.

Congress to FCC: Act Now

The outrage spread to Capitol Hill Wednesday. During a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee, Chairman Jay Rockefeller pressured FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to move quickly "to protect consumers [and] make the hard choices" to deliver an open Internet to everyone.

Sen. John Kerry wrote here that the FCC needs to fight "to make sure the Internet stays in the hands of the American people, that we get to set the rules to benefit all of us, not just a few huge corporations."

Later in the day, Sen. Byron Dorgan took to the Senate floor to urge the FCC to reclassify broadband and to reassert its authority to safeguard Net Neutrality. "The FCC is the referee," Dorgan said, "and I want it to have the touch that's necessary to protect the interests of American people and the citizens that use the Internet."

Fixing Bush-Era Mistakes

Momentum is building for swift action to defend an open Internet. And now it’s up to Genachowski to take that step – by reclassifying broadband under Title II of the Communications Act.

In a Bush-era move prompted by the powerful phone and cable lobby, the FCC opted to re-regulate Internet providers in a way that shielded broadband companies from agency oversight. Since then, we’ve seen companies including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon move toward a stronger hand determining your choice of content and services.

“The Bush FCC hoped that deregulation would prompt greater competition in Internet access services,” former White House economic adviser Susan Crawford wrote in the New York Times over the weekend:

“But a wave of mergers instead reduced it. Prices stayed high and speeds slow. And eventually the carriers started saying that they wanted to be gatekeepers — creating fast lanes for some Web sites and applications and slow lanes for others.”

With reclassification, the agency can return control of the Internet to those of us who have made it what it is today.

But the FCC needs to hear from more people before it restores users' right to control their online experience.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has made protecting the open Internet a priority during his tenure at the FCC. Let's make sure he delivers.