Net neutrality rules hailed as boon to free and open Internet

The Federal Communications Commission voted to make Internet service a public utility subject to government regulation in what many claim is a victory for free expression and equal access. In a 3-2 vote, the FCC prevented the establishment of exclusive premium services: fast lanes for powerful companies and slow lanes for the public at large. (New York Times, February 26, 2015, by Rebecca R. Ruiz and Steve Lohr)

David Richards, Re/code, February 27, 2015, praised the new FCC rules as upholding innovation and competitiveness, “Were broadband providers able to charge for premium access, it would likely bring an end to the disruptive impact of startups, insulating incumbent Internet giants and paving the way for a world where monopolies become increasingly common,” wrote Richards.

Marguerite Reardon, C/Net, February 27, 2015, expressed a less optimistic view of how the new rules would affect competitiveness, “The FCC’s Net neutrality rules do not regulate new competition into existence. Critics would even argue that the rules discourage competition, because of a regulatory framework that was built for the old telephone network. They call the regulation onerous and say it will prevent operators from investing in their networks, and beyond that could make it more expensive and difficult for new companies to build networks to compete against existing players.”

But in a press release on February 26, 2015, , Gabe Rottman of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote, “This is a victory for free speech, plain and simple. Americans use the internet not just to work and play, but to discuss politics and learn about the world around them. The FCC has a critical role to play in protecting citizens’ ability to see what they want and say what they want online, without interference.”