Battle for the Net Overview ‧ read
Net neutrality was in trouble. A lot of trouble. The Verizon lawsuit had disabled net neutrality rules, allowing cable company Comcast to start throttling Netflix. Comcast created an internet “slow lane” for Netflix and only released its chokehold on streaming movies after Netflix agreed to pay a hefty ransom.
What happened to Netflix—and, more importantly, to its customers, who could no longer use the internet freely—gave net users a chilling glimpse into a world without net neutrality. With the internet under corporate control, companies like Verizon and Comcast could start charging websites a premium to let customers access them, or they could block access to content they didn’t like. It would have brought about the end of free speech.
Thankfully, millions of internet users wanted to save net neutrality, and the Battle for the Net launched in June 2014. If you want to know what happened, read on.
Team Cable vs. Team Internet
Team Cable is made up of the U.S. cable companies that are “attacking the Internet—their one competitor and our only refuge—with plans to charge websites arbitrary fees and slow (to a crawl) any sites that won’t pay up. If they win, the internet will never be the same.”
Team Internet is made up of the campaign and its supporters who have “taken a stand for ‘Title II reclassification.’”
Battle for the Net is organized by digital rights advocates Fight for the Future. Other lead organizers include Access Now, the American Civil Liberties Union, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Free Press, and Tumblr.
What is Title II reclassification?
The FCC would also have more power to regulate the internet, so it could stop providers from using fast and slow lanes to control access to websites.
“The biggest public victory against entrenched interests in history”
- 4 million comments to the FCC
- 2.5 million petition signatures
- 10 million emails to U.S. Congress
- 500,000 phone calls to the FCC and Congress
- 100 protests and parties at Comcast, the FCC, and the White House
- Support from 101 civil rights groups in favor of Title II
- Over 20 million social media posts
February 2015: Net neutrality is saved… for now
The open internet protections created by the FCC prohibit ISPs from blocking sites and apps, throttling traffic, and creating paid fast lanes. The rules apply to home and mobile internet services in the United States of America.
The battle ain’t over yet
Even more worrying: upon Donald Trump's inaugration on January 20, 2017, Tom Wheeler will step down as chairman of the FCC, leaving his role vulnerable to a Republican takeover. Wheeler has been essential in preserving net neutrality to protect consumer interests. In a statement released by the FCC, Wheeler declares: “It has been a privilege to work with my fellow Commissioners to help protect consumers, strengthen public safety and cybersecurity, and ensure fast, fair and open networks for all Americans.”
With Wheeler no longer at the wheel and cable companies still battling against the FCC, the future of net neutrality is indeed uncertain.
We must stay vigilant for net neutrality
As long as this conflict endures, we can’t assume net neutrality is safe. We must be ready to fight for net neutrality. Thankfully, organizations like Battle for the Net are here to help. We hope they’re around next time net neutrality comes under attack.