Title II, For the (Improbable) Win

Earlier this week FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that his agency would be moving ahead with strong rules to protect net neutrality under Title II of the telecommunications act.

We at Automattic strongly supported this move, but to say that we expected it would be an overstatement. Here’s Automattic’s statement, applauding Chairman Wheeler’s Title II announcement.

The story of how the FCC came around to Title II is a fascinating one, that I’m sure will be told over time. It’s truly a David v. Goliath story, that restored some of my idealism about how Washington can sometimes, improbably, respond to the will of the people, even in the face of loud, well organized, very well funded, industry resistance.

The best early account I’ve read is this article, from the National Journal. I don’t know that I’d call the Net Neutrality campaign “ragtag”…but most of the piece rings true. I especially liked the conclusion – which is the lesson I am taking away from this fight:

It’s now clear that policymakers have to recognize a new kind of activism around Internet policy issues. On wonky, obscure topics that used to get little attention outside of small subsets of Washington, there are now millions of people ready to mobilize and fight.

Between the SOPA fight in 2012, to Net Neutrality today, we’re seeing the power of a new politicial constituency. Call us “citizens of the internet” who care about a very diverse, but very coherent set of principles, like: freedom of expression, government transparency, universal internet access, and making copyright and intellectual property laws that are consistent with 21st century norms. The major parties haven’t moved to address this constituency in an organized way, but Washington is learning to ignore it at its peril.

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General Counsel @ Automattic

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