Today the Federal Communications Commission voted 3–2 to approve of Title II-backed net neutrality regulations.
It’s a big and important day for the Internet. As I write this, advocates all across D.C. are celebrating. And they should! Not so long ago, after the D.C. Circuit ruled against the FCC in Verizon v. FCC, many pronounced that net neutrality was dead. Seriously?—?the spirit around the effort and the Internet was pretty moribund. See how many hyperlinks that was? I wasn’t joking.
The history of how “net neutrality came back from the dead” and the roles that the public, advocacy groups and companies (small and big) played in that revival will be important?—?and maybe will offer some great lessons as to the efficacy of online organizing.
But, before we get there, let’s try and set the historical record straight at the outset: by enacting and enforcing net neutrality regulations through Title II of the Communications Act and reclassifying broadband Internet access providers as “telecommunications services” under Title II, the FCC has not reclassified broadband Internet access providers as a public utility. (You may more commonly know broadband Internet access providers as Internet Service Providers/ISPs, or just Comcast & Verizon). That’s right: today’s vote didn’t make the Internet a public utility.
This point might be strained because the Internet has yet to really catch on to the whole idea nuance. But this distinction is pretty important. And it’s one that news organizations aren’t making.
Here’s a very quick, pictorial summary of building an ahistorical record (The Verge also has a nice summary):