More than 25,000 people and organizations have filed comments in a U.S. Federal Communications Commission inquiry into whether it should reclassify broadband as a regulated service, with the overwhelming majority appearing to favor such a move.
"I rely on the Internet as a public platform for free speech, equal opportunity, economic growth and innovation," the Free Press letters said. "Without vital Net Neutrality protections, companies like Verizon and Comcast, which have a commercial incentive to limit the free-flowing Web, can decide whether I will have a voice online. These companies should not have the power to determine my fate on the Internet."
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed that the agency reclassify broadband and claim regulatory authority over broadband after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled the FCC did not have the authority to enforce informal net neutrality principles in a case involving Comcast and peer-to-peer traffic.
Genachowski and other supporters of broadband reclassification say it's needed because the court ruling casts doubt on the agency's ability to create formal net neutrality rules and enact large portions of its national broadband plan, released in March. Net neutrality rules would prohibit broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Web content.
Under Genachowski's plan, the FCC would forbear, or opt out of, enforcing most common-carrier regulations under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. However, because the proposal is just in the comment-collecting stage, it's unclear how many common-carrier rules the FCC would attempt to enforce.
While thousands of people called for the FCC to reclassify broadband, several broadband providers and trade groups urged the FCC to keep broadband largely unregulated.
The ruling in the Comcast case did not strike down the FCC's ability to take limited actions involving broadband service, it only struck down the agency's method of enforcing informal net neutrality rules, Comcast said in a filing Thursday. New regulations could slow the FCC's efforts to bring broadband to areas in the U.S. that don't yet have it, the company said.
"The FCC's ... proposal is truly like hunting flies in your home with a sledge-hammer," Quinn said. "When it is all said and done, some of the walls, ceilings and floors will be gone but the flies will still be there."
CTIA, a trade group representing mobile carriers, said the FCC "cannot show a market failure that would justify the type of heavy-handed regulation proposed."
While many people commenting used the language from Free Press or Public Knowledge, others put the argument in their own words.
"The Internet is the greatest vehicle for communications ever invented," wrote someone identifying himself as William Haynes. "It gives everybody the power of the press; everybody gets a voice. I have never seen a corporation who places the public interest above the corporate interest, or people above profits. Keeping the internet free of corporate control is essential to keep this unique line of communication free and open for all."
Another commenter, identified as Paula Nessa, wrote that she's married to a man who is "cheap," by his own admission. "We depend on the NET for all sorts of free information and we don't want it filtered by a commercial company," she said. "Don't limit us and the world to filtered information."