Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

The fight for net neutrality, as with the larger fight for internet freedom, will ultimately be determined by how well users of the web are able to combat the forces who want dominion over it. (Photo via FreePress.net)

The White House Gets It Right On Net Neutrality. Will the FCC?

Over the past year, millions of Internet users have spoken out in defense of the open Internet. Today, we know the White House heard us.

In a statement issued this morning, President Barack Obama has called on the Federal Communications Commission to develop new “net neutrality” rules and, equally importantly, establish the legal authority it needs to support those rules by reclassifying broadband service as a “telecommunications service.”

This is very welcomed news. Back in May, the Federal Communications Commission proposed flawed “net neutrality” rules that would effectively bless the creation of Internet “slow lanes.” After months of netroots protests, we learned the FCC began to settle on a “hybrid” proposal that, we fear, is legally unsustainable.

Here's why: if the FCC is going to craft and enforce clear and limited neutrality rules, it must first do one important thing. The FCC must reverse its 2002 decision to treat broadband as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service.” This is what’s known as Title II reclassification. According to the highest court to review the question, the rules that actually do what many of us want — such as forbidding discrimination against certain applications — require the FCC to treat access providers like “common carriers, ” treatment that can only be applied to telecommunications services. Having chosen to define broadband as an “information service,” the FCC can impose regulations that “promote competition” (good) but it cannot stop providers from giving their friends special access to Internet users (bad).

Today’s statement stresses a few key principles:

  1. No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player — not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
  2. No throttling. 
  3. Increased transparency, including with respect to interconnection. 
  4. No paid prioritization. “No service should be stuck in a 'slow lane' because it does not pay a fee.”

Wisely, the statement explicitly notes the need for forbearance. As we have said for months, reclassification must be combined with a commitment to forbear from imposing aspects of Title II that were originally drafted for 20th century telephone services and that don't make sense for the Internet. While forbearance doesn’t set the limits on the regulatory agency in stone, it does require the FCC to make a public commitment that is difficult to reverse. 

This is an important moment in the fight for the open Internet. President Obama has chosen to stand with the us: the users, the innovators, the creators who depend on an open internet. But the fight isn't over yet: we still need to persuade the FCC to join him. Stay tuned for ways you can help.


Corynne McSherry

Corynne McSherry is Intellectual Property Director at EFF, specializing in intellectual property and free speech issues.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Congress 'Asleep at the Switch' as Biden Continues Trump-Era Ploy to Privatize Medicare

More than 1,500 physicians warn that the experiment threatens "the future of Medicare as we know it."

Jake Johnson ·


Number of Covid Boosters Given in US Exceeds Single Shots in 8 African Nations Combined

"Our leaders' failure to help bring the vaccines to everyone, everywhere will keep us on a cruel and never-ending cycle of illness, death, and economic suffering."

Jake Johnson ·


Omar Hangs Up After Boebert Uses Call to Double Down on 'Outright Bigotry and Hate'

"Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments."

Jessica Corbett ·


Win for Alabama Workers as NLRB Orders New Union Vote After Amazon's Alleged Misconduct

A union leader said the decision confirmed that "Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace."

Jessica Corbett ·


'For the Sake of Peace,' Anti-War Groups Demand Biden Return to Nuclear Deal With Iran

"It's time to put differences aside and return to the Iran nuclear deal," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo