Editorial: The Pledge Plunge

FCC has made its case for ISP reclassification

The FCC wishes to uphold the controversial decision to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers to provide legal backing for new Open Internet rules. The commission has made its opening case for doing so.

ISPs will, of course, counter that suggestion, followed by. Then it’s the FCC’s turn to reply. And then oral arguments will come in December, followed by a decision sometime next year.

We’ve been through all this before. The issue remains unsettled a decade after the FCC signaled there were basic, important, Internet freedoms.

People can disagree about whether that Title II reclassification is a necessary check to ISP power or an overreach that threatens investment and innovation.

But no one disputes the Internet is an unprecedentedly powerful communications tool whose misuse can, and does, affect people everywhere. That power will only grow as the Internet of Things becomes the Internet of Everything.

If we are living online, then liberty and the pursuit of happiness reside there as well and are in need of defending and protecting. But they should not be held hostage to overregulation.

So while the legal system works its slow will, and regardless of the eventual outcome, it is an appropriate time to commit to the basic principles offered up by the FCC a decade ago:

“[C]onsumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.

“[C]onsumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.

“[C]onsumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.

“[C]onsumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.”

Trying to figure out how to enforce those principles is what started the FCC on this legal battle in the first place. But if both sides are committed to honor them, then regardless of which lawyers win, the ultimate winners will be the members of that virtuous cycle of content, network and consumer.