Seven or eight years ago, the most active companies in the first Open Internet Coalition were Amazon, eBay, Google and Skype. Twitter was barely a twinkle and I don’t know how I really lived without Pandora.
Courts threw out both consensus FCC principles around Internet access rights and its 2010 open Internet rules. But failure to rely on the correct statutory foundation was always the fatal flaw.
Then last year, a whole new generation of younger Internet platforms including Netflix, Foursquare, Etsy, Tumblr and many more arrived on the policy scene immediately grasping the critical importance of open Internet access to their online businesses. They jumped into the fray with awesome energy and conviction about “innovation without permission” from network providers. Along with tech venture capitalists, these entrepreneurs organized and came to Washington for meetings on the Hill and at the FCC. They made a huge difference in the policy debate and they all deserve to be celebrating this week with their consumer and public interest advocate friends at the Freedom to Connect event in New York City.
The FCC’s 2015 Open Internet decision was painstakingly developed after over a year of unprecedented public input including a tsunami of millions of written comments and an exhaustive series of intensive workshops and debate. We have yet to learn about many complex details still unknown outside the agency, but we do know that the 2015 Open Internet Order firmly establishes the importance of local Internet access networks as the critical telecommunications infrastructure of our time. We expect even most people in Congress will agree on that much.
And we think this historic breakthrough sets a good example for the rest of the world as well. There can be no global Internet freedom without local open Internet access in each country. A few countries in Europe and South America and Mexico have already adopted legal net neutrality protections. Canada treats Internet access a common carrier service. It was past time for the U.S. to get our own open Internet house in order.
Next up: “Competition, competition, competition”.