The Courts Can't Take Away Our Internet

Today's ruling for
by the DC Circuit Court could be the biggest blow to our
nation's primary communications platform, or it could be the kick in the
pants our leaders need to finally protect it. Either way, the future of
the Internet, the fight for Net Neutrality, and the expansion of
broadband is hanging in the balance.

The court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the
authority under existing legal framework to enforce rules that keep
Internet service providers from blocking and controlling Internet
traffic. The decision puts the FCC's Net Neutrality proceeding and the
National Broadband Plan in jeopardy.

The court ruled in favor of ISP Comcast, which was caught blocking
BitTorrent Internet traffic in 2007 and contested the FCC's attempts to stop the
. The decision has made it near impossible for the FCC to
follow through with plans to create strong Net Neutrality protections
that keep the Internet out of the hands of corporations. Additionally,
without authority over broadband, the decision means the FCC will be
hamstrung when it comes to implementing portions of its just released
broadband plan.

As a result of this decision, the FCC can't stop Comcast and others
from blocking Web sites. And the FCC can't make policies to bring
broadband to rural America, to promote competition, and to protect
consumer privacy or truth in billing.


The FCC has found itself in the ridiculous situation of attempting to
regulate broadband without the authority to do so unless the agency
takes strong and decisive action to "reclassify" the service under the
Communications Act.

Here's the deal: under the Bush FCC, the agency decided to classify
and treat broadband Internet service providers the same as any Internet
applications company like Facebook or Lexis-Nexis, placing broadband
providers outside of the legal framework that traditionally applied to
the companies that offer two-way communications services.

That's the loophole that let Comcast wiggle out from under the
agency's thumb.

Change it back

There's an easy fix here: The FCC can change broadband back to a
"communications service," which is where it should have been in the
first place. By reclassifying broadband, all of these questions about
authority will fall away and the FCC can pick up where it left off -
protecting the Internet for the public and bridging the digital divide.

While Comcast and other ISPs may be celebrating today, this court
decision will hopefully force the FCC to take action that will
ultimately come back to haunt them. Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott
told the Associated
, "Comcast swung an ax at the FCC to protest the BitTorrent
order. And they sliced right through the FCC's arm and plunged the ax
into their own back."

Millions of you

Reclassification of broadband may be a simple fix, but it will take
guts from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to actually implement it,
particularly as ISPs unleash intense pressure to maintain the status

That's where you come in: We need thousands of you, if not millions,
to tell
the FCC to protect Net Neutrality and the National Broadband Plan

by reasserting their regulatory authority.

In less than 72 hours, the public comment period on the FCC's Net
Neutrality proceeding will end. Use this window of opportunity to give
the FCC one giant public mandate: We want an Internet free from
corporate control.

Will Internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T persuade
the FCC to allow them to control Internet traffic, rerouting people to
the sites and search engines they own? Or will the FCC protect our last
remaining open platform for communication, where anyone can create a Web
site, post a video, start a business, or find the information they need
without ISPs meddling with our traffic?

This could be one of the most important actions you take all year.
The hours are ticking down. Take
a few minutes to take action
on something that will impact

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