Today the FCC made a historic move to protect net neutrality. By reclassifying ISPs under Title II of the Communications Act, the internet is now regulated like a utility.
“While some other countries try to control the internet, the action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control a free and open access to the internet,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler during a packed meeting today in Washington DC.
In attendance at the meeting was Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who called the FCC’s decision a “victory for the people.”
“To me, more than anything else, this is a victory for the people, the consumers, the average Joes, against the suppliers who have all of the power and the wealth and make decisions for them and they feel hopeless and helpless,” Wozniak told Bloomberg. “And here 4 million of us signed petitions. It’s an indication that the people can sometimes win. We’ve had a lot of defeats over the years, but once in a while we get a win.”
Tom Wheeler originally seemed opposed to net neutrality, but after Obama came out in support along with millions of petitioners, the FFC chairman completely changed directions. Today’s ruling also applies to mobile networks, which means companies like Verizon and AT&T can’t block certain apps or services on smartphones.
The FCC also has the power to investigate business agreements like the one between Comcast and Netflix. While there’s not a law (yet) to prohibit a company like Netflix or Apple from paying Comcast for faster speeds, ISPs are not allowed to throttle speeds based on any business arrangements.
— Steve Wozniak (@stevewoz) February 26, 2015
Wozniak, as one of the tech industry’s most famous early entrepreneurs, thinks that today’s ruling is especially important for the smaller startups that don’t have the funds to pay ISPs. But he still wants there to be a day when the internet is “declared a necessity and brought to everyone.”
“There’s no big ISP that is going to bring broadband to my house,” Wozniak said, who often checks into his home in Los Gatos on Foursquare. “I live a short little Segway ride down a hill. When I go into town, I take a Segway down, not even a car, I am that close. And I don’t have broadband and I’m Silicon Valley and I don’t have broadband because I have no choice.”