The Internet You Know and Love is in Danger
- February 1, 2014 by ACLU Blog of Rights
The Internet You Know and Love is in Dangerby Sandra Fulton
Net neutrality – the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must treat all data on the Internet equally – is vital to free speech. But earlier this month, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the FCC's net neutrality rules, jeopardizing the openness of the Internet that we have come to take for granted.
The court ruled that for the FCC to preserve net neutrality, it must first reclassify the Internet as a "common carrier" – a term used to describe a utility like plain-old telephone service or an electric company – so that it can be subject to particular government regulations. Today we delivered a petition with more than 1 million signatures calling on them to do just that.
Without strong net neutrality rules, an ISP can interfere with a user's access to content online – that could mean, for example, blocking controversial content or discriminating against a competitor's site. We've seen it happen before. In 2007, Verizon Wireless blocked text messages from the reproductive rights group NARAL. That same year, Comcast was caught discriminating against an entire class of online activities by limiting file transfers from customers using popular peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent, eDonkey, and Gnutella.Net neutrality has benefits beyond free speech, too....