Net Neutrality Decision a Win for All

Handing a big victory to everyday people, an appeals court Tuesday upheld the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules.

The decision likely guarantees that the internet won't go the route of cable television, and that we will be the ones to decide what sites and services we use online -- not Comcast [pictured above] or AT&T.

The ruling "is a tremendous and decisive win for all Americans," Sarah J. Morris, senior policy counsel at the Open Technology Institute, a digital rights advocacy group, said in a statement. "The court's decision recognizes the value of an open platform over which all voices have a space and all ideas can flourish."

But the ruling -- which will most likely survive an expected appeal -- is a big win for everyday citizens in another way. It shows the power that people can have when they get involved in government and the political process. In an unusual outpouring, nearly 4 million people wrote the FCC demanding an open internet. Without that public pressure, regulators wouldn't have put in place the strong net neutrality rules that the court just upheld.

"I think the commission needed some help coming to this answer," said John Bergmayer, a senior staff attorney with Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group that backed the FCC in the net neutrality case. "This is a great case study in what should be possible" when people get involved.

As recently as two years ago, it didn't look like we would end up here. Indeed, it looked like the internet as we knew it was doomed.

Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers should treat all network traffic basically the same; they shouldn't block, slow or speed access to particular sites or services. If you want to watch movies from Netflix over the internet connection you get from Comcast, that...

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