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What we need to do to save the Internet as we know it

Today, President Obama announced his support for clear, enforceable rules to protect net neutrality, grounded in “Title II” reclassification by the Federal Communications Commission. We’re nearing the end of a long, sustained fight to get strong, effective protections for net neutrality. Now it is time to take it to the finish line.

Imagine a world where a small handful of powerful companies decide what information is available and accessible on the Internet. Or, a world where someone else chooses what you should (and shouldn’t) see on the Internet. Or, a world where you can no longer access your favorite website because it’s not part of the suite of content offered in your area.

Preventing the Internet that you just imagined is why the net neutrality fight is so important to the Mozilla community. It is about protecting the core ethos of the Internet. It is about ensuring that it remains an engine of innovation, opportunity and learning. It is about standing up to those in power with a core assertion: the Web is not owned by any one of us; rather, it is shared by all of us.

In the spring, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission proposed rules that would have gutted the free and open Web. Under its original proposal, we would have seen the emergence of a two-tiered Internet — a fast one that benefits the few companies that can afford to pay; and a slow one for the rest of us.

The Internet community quickly responded, mobilizing itself for a long, sustained fight. Around the country, everyone from small business owners to librarians told their stories of why net neutrality was important to them. People saw the debate for what it really was — a few cable company goliaths trying to hoodwink the mainstream public and change the nature of the Web. We fought back with a resounding voice — the greatest amount of public engagement the FCC has ever seen — demanding strong net neutrality.

Today, as the FCC is closing in on a decision about net neutrality, tensions are rising over if and how it will adopt rules grounded in Title II authority. Title II would empower the FCC to prohibit the discrimination created when someone else can control which content is accessible. The question of where the FCC gets its authority — Title II or something else — is important. If the FCC chooses to rely on the wrong authority, the rules could be weakened, challenged, or overturned.

We have a view on both the authority and the rules required.

First, we believe that the FCC’s authority must come from Title II, and that full Title II reclassification is the cleanest, simplest path forward.

Second, we want a baseline set of protections that incorporate Title II. These protections include strong rules against blocking and discrimination of content, and should apply to the ‘last mile’ portion of the network controlled by the Internet access service provider.

In short, the FCC must not create separate fast lanes that enable prioritization of content over the Internet not based on reasonable and transparent network management.

Finally, because there is only one Internet, we believe the same framework and rules must be applied to mobile as well as fixed access services. It is time to bring mobile into the open Internet age.

Anything less than strong, enforceable rules against blocking, discrimination, and fast lanes, grounded in Title II, is unacceptable. Anything less than this is not the Mozilla baseline or the Mozilla proposal.

In the 25 year history of the Web there have been moments when the masses have stood up to the powerful forces that seek to control it; the launch of Firefox, which defeated the one-browser monopoly of Internet Explorer; the fight that stopped SOPA/PIPA from becoming law; the recent protests in Hungary against an Internet tax.

This is our moment to save the Internet as we know it, and the President’s focus on the issue demonstrates that we can win this fight, and get the FCC to adopt strong, enforceable rules to protect net neutrality. We stand with our Community ready to fight if our baseline is not met.

18 comments on “What we need to do to save the Internet as we know it”

  1. Bison Tufts wrote on

    I’m not so sure giving the U.S. this much power over the Internet is such a good idea.

    1. J Hill wrote on

      Would you prefer to give private companies far MORE control over the internet? Let them decide what websites you get full access to and which you don’t? I’d much rather keep the internet completely open as it is now, and that is all this article proposes.

  2. Richard A. Ivey wrote on

    The Govt and a few chosen company’s should never be able to control or cut off our access to a free and open net. Too much power for any benevolent Govt, imagine what a horrendous govt could do….

    1. yeldarb p wrote on

      China, the perfect example of an overbearing government, limiting the internet to their citizenship,.

  3. Thomas Pryor wrote on

    you be able look at what you want and post what you want with out being block

  4. Bill wrote on

    Actually, Net Neutrality is an oxymoron, a misnomer, a falsehood.

    The ‘Net is already neutral. It already is free.

    What the U.S. government is proposing – that Mozilla apparently bought into – is an enormous power grab. Net Neutrality is precisely the opposite: Net Control.

    This control will come in the form of telling people who use, post on, and create web sites on the Net to be “fair” and “neutral” in what they post. No strong opinions. No “unbalanced” information.

    This means Net Neutrality will create an enforcement arm of the U.S. government that will police the Net to make sure everyone is in compliance with what the U.S. government thinks is fair, proper, right, etc.

    As to the claim that Net Neutrality is about Internet speed, that’s a falsehood as well. True, some companies pay to enable faster connections. True, customers who want faster connections need to pay more.

    But so what? That’s how the world works. If you want more of something, there’s a price to be paid.

    Net Neutrality will establish control of the Internet and channel the power of enforcing it into the hands of yet another bureaucracy in the U.S. government. It is the opposite of neutral. And it is, most definitely, the opposite of free.

    Please think twice (or even three times) before you endorse Net Neutrality. It’s a trap that could cost all of us the ability to enjoy a free, truly neutral, and fair Internet for everyone.

    1. James Dead wrote on

      Geez, what are you saying ? Your post is full of ideology when the problem is rather easy: Either you open way for a near future where new companies can’t compete against already established companies unless they find millions in founding, skewing even more the power balance towards the famous 1% and hampering freedom to do business, or you treat the internet pipes the same way as you do ROADS, which leads to anyone able to buy, rent or share a car being free to move around.

      Pretty much no question here.

    2. James Dead wrote on

      Here, I found something clearer for you:

      (Note that giving access to faster lanes to paying companies is effectively the same as slowing down other companies, in the context of doing business.)

    3. Tom wrote on

      Sorry, Bill, but you’re completely missing the point. Please get educated about the facts, and dump the ideology.

    4. Pat B. wrote on

      Net neutrality… IS about Speed for ALL… &not just for companies.. let’s be clear!!!

    5. Padraig wrote on

      Sorry Bill, if the the big telcos (are you working for one?) have their way they will put up toll booths on the internet for most of us and give the minions of the One Percent and E-Zpass. Net Neutrality will stop them from doing this.

  5. Heather Gatimu wrote on

    Whenever a few mega interests seek to skew the rules to suit themselves, everyone else loses. Eventually there will be a suffocation of initiative. A corrupt system corrupts everyone. We built into the Constitution clear protections for a free press when a printing press was the technical means of communication at large. Those same protections should now be applied to the internet and all other means of disseminating comment to a public free to choose and monitor information without censorship and without financial discrimination.

    1. Leslie Dale Fox wrote on

      I agree with Heather … The Net is today’s Free Press and requires as much freedom and protection as possible to remain totally and completely free from government control, censorship and financial influence. Of the People for the People of the planet or at least America !!!

  6. Jay Swede wrote on

    Assuming a separation of government and corporation is a miscalculation. Consider all the department defunding, watered own legislation and a plethora of other corporate tactics to get their way in the end.

  7. Marilyn Coker wrote on

    As citizens we are loosing so many basic privileges- use of the Internet should not be one of them!!!

  8. Jacqueline Sopira wrote on

    Here are my thoughts…………….I lived through many changes….and change can be hard….TV use to be free, gas was .25 a gallon, schools taught shop, and home economics……the biggest change, from candles to light bulbs……so harness that power, just like the public utility commission do…..the internet should be like electricity……95% of the folks don’t know how it works, but dang try living without it. The internet has so gotten like electricity……let use this power effectively to teach, to transact, and oh……communicate when real face to face is not possible………..and I do not mean “selfies”

  9. Jon Ogden wrote on

    It figures – who else but Mozilla would want to screw up the internet?

  10. Bernard Merritt wrote on

    Keep the internet free, or deprive millions of free communication capabilities. To do other would be a step backward.