In a hotly-anticipated vote, the FCC decided today to classify internet service as public utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. The 3-2 vote (which was split down party lines) drew the attention of progressives and net neutrality activists — including me — who urged the FCC in a series of campaigns to vote in favour of a Title II reclassification.
Title II reclassification is generally agreed to be a critical step in protecting net neutrality by establishing guidelines that would prevent major cable and internet providers from (in essence) messing with internet service in order to earn money. The new classification prohibits cable providers from, for example, establishing fast internet service for premium customers, and relegating customers who can’t or won’t pay extra for fast-lane access to significantly slower download speeds.
Title II reclassification was bizarrely opposed by many major civil rights organizations — including several high profile Asian American groups — perhaps because major cable providers such as Comcast are prominent donors to these organizations. But Title II reclassification is a boon for all digital citizens, and in particular those of us who rely on a (free, open) internet to amplify otherwise marginalized voices.