Historic FCC Ruling Favors Internet Freedom

On August 1st, a majority on the Federal Communications Commission voted to punish Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, for blocking users' access to the open Internet. In a landmark decision, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein approved an "enforcement order" that would require Comcast to stop blocking and publicly disclose its methods for interfering with Internet traffic.

The ruling is widely considered a major victory for consumers and the policy principle known as Net Neutrality

Tests by the Associated Press and others showed that Comcast blocks users' legal peer-to-peer content by sending fake signals that cut off the connection between file-sharers. Today's decision follows an exhaustive FCC investigation, launched in response to a complaint from Free Press and Public Knowledge urging the federal agency to stop Comcast's blocking.

Read more about Net Neutrality and efforts by advocates to ensure an open Internet.

Josh Silver, Executive Director of Free Press, the lead plaintiffs, issued the following statement:

"The FCC's bipartisan decision to punish Comcast is a major victory. Defying every ounce of conventional wisdom in Washington, everyday people have taken on a major corporation and won an historic precedent for an open Internet.

"Today's order makes it clear that there is nothing reasonable about restricting access to online content or technologies. Moving forward, this bellwether case will send a strong signal to cable and phone companies that such violations will not be tolerated.

"But the fight is far from over. A duopoly market -- where phone and cable companies control nearly 99 percent of high-speed connections -- will not discipline itself. We look forward to working with the FCC and Congress to ensure proactive measures keep the Internet open and free of discrimination, and accessible to all Americans."

Ann Chaitovitz, Executive Director of the Future of Music Coalition, stated:

“The internet is the place where artists and fans come together to experience the thrill of music and discovery. To prevent musicians from using the web to reach potential audiences would replicate the problems with commercial radio, where ownership consolidation means less choice for listeners and a lack of access for most artists. Today’s FCC decision will help ensure this doesn’t happen to the internet.”

Andrew Schwartzmann, President of Media Access Project, counsel for the case, stated:

“The FCC has relied on seventy years of FCC and judicial precedent to vindicate the public’s right to have unfettered access to the internet. MAP is proud to have been co-counsel with Free Press in this process. Network Neutrality is essential for fulfilling the promise of the internet as a medium for free speech and expression.”