I applaud the DC Circuit Court of Appeals' decision upholding rules that keep the Internet open to all with equal access for everyone. This is a tremendous victory for the future of the Internet!
This is the culmination of a victory for Internet freedom. The people defeated the telecom giants, one of the most powerful corporate lobbies in Washington, DC. A people-powered campaign demanded a free and open Internet in an effort I helped to lead a year ago. It is a real world example of my campaign slogan -- Let People Power Bloom.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, ruled that the FCC was within its statutory power to put in place net neutrality rules. The rules ensure equal access to the Internet as well as equal service to all and upholds the principle that broadband providers must treat all Internet traffic the same regardless of source. The key to the decision was that the FCC reclassified the Internet under Title II of the Federal Telecommunications Act as a common carrier last year.
When I began my work in the campaign to save the Internet, I joined in building an encampment outside the FCC for a week before FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the rulemaking proceeding on the future of the Internet. As our encampment grew over the week before he announced the public comment period on proposed Internet rules a lot of media reported our rapidly growing encampment outside the FCC. FCC employees came out to our camp to tell us they supported our work and hoped we succeeded in convincing the commissioners to propose net neutrality rules. Pressure mounted on the FCC as hundreds of thousands of emails were sent to the commission during our week-long encampment. Three of the five commissioners came to the encampment to talk with us, including Chairman Wheeler.
When Chairman Wheeler came to our encampment, I used my brief time with him to emphasize that the FCC should follow the advice from a previous Court of Appeals that failed to uphold net neutrality rules. The court told the FCC they needed to reclassify the Internet as a common carrier under Title II in order to put in place such rules. We told Wheeler that to survive judicial review he must reclassify the Internet as a common carrier. He disagreed saying he thought there was a way to do so without reclassification. We debated this point and urged him to read the decision and get another legal opinion. Lawyers in our coalition reinforced what we told Wheeler, citing the language of the decision. Two days later, Wheeler announced the rule-making proceeding and asked for comments on his proposal for a tiered Internet as well as the proposal of the movement for reclassification of the Internet as a common carrier.
The campaign for net neutrality involved a broad coalition of organizations and resulted in the largest response ever to an FCC rulemaking proceeding. The FCC received more than 3.7 million comments on the proposed Internet rules, which overwhelmingly supported our position of treating the Internet as a common carrier to ensure net neutrality. There were protests throughout the country supporting equal access to the Internet. The people showed how important the Internet is to them and that they did not want any discrimination based on wealth or other factors.
We expect Comcast, Verizon and other corporations to appeal to the US Supreme Court and work in Congress to undo these rules, but the people are organized and vigilant to protect the Internet and ensure equal access and equal service to all. As your senator I will continue to work to keep the Internet free of discrimination and ensure equal access to all.