The Battle Over Net Neutrality Quietly Heats Up

By Jamilah King Apr 23, 2010

The battle over net neutrality is quietly entering its next phase. Media justice advocates are encouraging supporters of net neutrality to submit comments to the FCC in opposition to last month’s court ruling in favor of big telecom companies. The effort comes on the heels of a brewing battle between the FCC, telecom companies, and advocates. Michael Cobbs, one of the commission’s three Democrats and a supporter of net neutrality, told The Hill this week that the battle over open Internet won’t be solved "without a fight:"

"This is a tough question for America right now," Copps said. "Here you’ve got this dynamic technology that thrives on openness, that thrives on innovation… and you don’t want to regulate or artificially limit it." "But at the end of the day, if that’s where everything is moving, if that’s where our national dialogue, if that’s where our civic dialogue is moving, there is a public interest component to that," he added.

According to many supporters of net neutrality, the first step for the FCC may be to take back its own power. Last month’s DC Circuit Court ruling in favor of Comcast effectively stripped the commission of its power to prevent telecom companies from blocking content online. Under the Bush administration, a Republican-majority commission voted to classify broadband access as a Title I information service instead of a Title II communications service. As far as regulation goes, an information service is more of a consumer luxury than a vital communication service (listen to a legal analysis of the distinction here). Cobbs seems to agree, saying this week, "I think at the end of the day, you have to come to that conclusion: we have a public interest in how this is used to inform and serve the American people."