In the latest round in the decade-long Battle Over Your Internet, Tom Wheeler, chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced this week that he’ll stand for keeping the Internet as is: open.
I’ll admit surprise. To understand why see here, here, here, here and, well, you get the point. Then again, perhaps it is difficult for a Beltway denizen to completely ignore nearly 4 million comments from ordinary Americans basically saying, "Hands off my Internet." Or maybe it’s just difficult for Wheeler to ignore his boss.
Whatever the cause, between last April and December, according to Politico, Wheeler changed his mind about an earlier proposal that consumer advocates and tech companies say would’ve created a two-tier Internet. Its impact on low-income communities of color (and nonprofit media like Colorlines) would be devastating. For example, largely working-class and poor St. Louis residents used real-time tweets and streaming video to draw mainstream media’s attention to Mike Brown’s body lying on their street for four and a half hours. Suppose they first had to pay-to-play?
Wheeler’s turnaround isn’t the end of it. On February 26th his new and stronger "open Internet" rules go before the full commission for a vote. A win isn’t a slam dunk, however. Advocates are expecting pressure from a new Republican Congress and members of the Congressional Black Caucus.