Can the people ever win in an new age of oligarchy, when corporate power is so frequently and thoroughly unbound?
Yes, sometimes, they can.
After years of bumbling, blustering and bureaucratic attempts to avoid necessary action, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to move on Thursday to defend net neutrality. According to the design and technology blog Gizmodo, “It’s Finally Game Time for Net Neutrality.” The more staid Wall Street Journal explains that the commission majority is moving to “fully embrace the principle known as net neutrality”—the “central element” of which “would be a ban on broadband providers blocking, slowing down or speeding up specific websites in exchange for payment.”
Translation: The FCC is preparing to defend the Internet as we know it against subdivision by profiteers who would create a “fast lane” for paying content from multinational corporations and billionaire-backed politicians and a “slow lane” for communications from those who are not on the winning side of the income-inequality chasm.
This is a good thing for citizens, for consumers and for businesses that seek to compete on the merits of their products and services—rather than to shut down competition with crony-capitalist deals and the monopolies that extend from them. So good, in fact, that Free Press president Craig Aaron calls the expected FCC embrace of net neutrality “one of the most important victories for the public interest in its history.” Future of Music Coalition CEO Casey Rae says that if the FCC acts, as now seems possible, the commission will not just uphold basic freedoms but unleash “the amazing creativity that real net neutrality will help inspire for generations to come.”
Consumer, civil rights, media reform and open-Internet activist groups—Consumers Union, Color of Change, Demand Progress, CREDO Action, the Future of Music Coalition and Free Press, among others—have for years advocated on behalf of net neutrality. And they have argued that the only way to defend “the First Amendment of the Internet” is by regulating high-speed Internet service in the public interest—rather than in the interest of old-fashioned telephone and cable companies.